Amidst COVID lockdown, Aide et Action rescues stranded migrants across many cities
18 April 2020

During the last 21 days of the nationwide Covid lockdown, Aide et Action rescued as many as 1600 migrants stranded across the many cities after receiving request calls, appeal videos, and references from various Civil Society Organization networks. We have also reached out to 245 migrants of other states in Odisha on request of government officials and CSOs of concerned states. 

Apart from reaching out to distressed migrants outside our intervention areas, we have also taken care of 5000 families of the brick kiln and construction migrant workers in 6 cities including Bhopal, Delhi, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad and Chennai who were part of our existing education projects for their children. We ensured regular food, nutrition, immunization, and essential commodities through our education volunteers. 

Our efforts to rescue stranded migrants 

Fifty-two youths from Balangir & Bargarh districts of Odisha who were working as daily wage earners at construction sites of Chembur, Mumbai got stranded due to the lockdown. After managing themselves for 5 days with the available resources, they could not manage further and made a frantic video appeal to the government of Odisha to help them repatriate to their native villages. We received their details through our CSO network based on which we guided them to register their complaint to the Odisha state labor department helpline. After a futile trail for two days, the helpline responded and helped them receive food packets from the local municipal corporation that abruptly stopped just after two days. In the meantime, the Chembur area was declared Corona containment area. The youth became frightened further and decided to walk from Mumbai to Odisha after losing hope of government help. All the while we were continuously counseling them to have patience and got in touch with an organization called Paschim Odisha Paribar based in Mumbai. The organization responded positively and provided immediate support of ration and essential commodities, which saved their lives. 

Fifty-three persons from Cuttack and Puri districts of Odisha who were working in a chemical factory in Rajendra Nagar, Hyderabad, Telangana got stranded after the lockdown. With the closure of the factory and non-payment of salary for March, they anxiously called their relatives and friends to send money for sustenance. Their difficult situation came to our notice through a trade union leader. We immediately guided one of the youths, Bibhuti Bhushan Mallik to register a complaint in the government helpline number. After waiting for 3 days, we finally took the issue to Sri Mahesh Bhagwat, IPS, Commissioner of Police, Rachakonda Commissionarate who immediately intervened and the group received ration supplies from the Telangana government. Similarly, a group of 200 youths from Odisha who were stranded in Suruyodaya spinning mill, Nalgonda of Telangana received ration supplies from the revenue department after the intervention of police personnel from Rachakonda Police Commissionarate. 

Forty migrants from Jaleswar and Mayurbhanj who were working in a garment factory at Tirupur, Tamil Nadu have similar stories to share. These migrants managed to feed themselves with just biscuits for a week after the closure of the factor and approached an NGO to help them. The NGO, in turn, connected them with our local AEA team. The staff of Aide et Action at Chennai immediately took the matter to the district revenue department and after continuous follow up they received ration for 15 days. 

As a pioneering organization working for the welfare of migrant workers Aide et Action, through its actions, played a pivotal role in making the government and employers accountable and ensured basic rights of the migrants stranded across different parts of the country are met.

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