Rohingya refugees find safe haven in Kashmir

Hundreds of persecuted Rohingya families have found refuge in Kashmir after fleeing Buddhist attacks in Myanmar.


Jammu, Indian-administered Kashmir - Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are searching for a new beginning across South Asia after being forced to leave Myanmar following persecution at the hands of Buddhists. 

Hundreds of Rohingya families have found refuge in the winter capital of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir state, living in temporary homes made up of branches and shrubs and covered with plastic sheets. 

According to United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), thousands of unregistered refugees are living in elsewhere in India.

The Rohingya are among an estimated 10 million stateless people worldwide.  

Local landowners charge about $9 a month for each jughi, or hut. Children are found playing around heaps of garbage, and a lack of water, sanitation and healthcare facilities pose serious threats.

Mohammad Rafik, 48, told Al Jazeera: "We have been forced to be scrap dealers as there are no employment avenues available. A large number of refugees here are unregistered as there is a long process to get your name registered with UNHCR who provide an registration card."

Children support their families by collecting and selling recyclable material, and some women work in walnut factories up to 12 hours a day, cracking shells and removing nuts.

Saddam Hussain, 39, a labourer living in a makeshift camp, said: "We have seen our life being devastated and ruined, but we want our kids to live a better life and become good humans. [Don't] we all seek better education, healthcare, and a better future for our children?"