Home Equality & Justice Caritas: India's migrants, poor farmers most affected by pandemic

Caritas: India’s migrants, poor farmers most affected by pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has mostly affected migrants and poor farming communities in India according to a study done by Caritas, the social action arm of the Catholic Church.

A rapid research project conducted by the organization in 18 states revealed that 80 percent of small and marginal farmers have lower income after the coronavirus outbreak.

Caritas shared the result of its research in a meeting attended by the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the heads of regional bishop councils across the country.

Father Paul Moonjely, Caritas executive director, said the Catholic Church in India has already reached out to the affected communities to provide support.

“[We have been] proactively reaching out to the most marginalized,” he said according to a Caritas India report.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the bishops’ conference, said the Church should “reflect and communicate” its work of during the pandemic.

“This documentation is important to preserve our work in history and to reflect on our successes and areas of improvements so that other countries, conferences, and institutions learn from us,” he said.

An Indian farmer harvests a wheat crop during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the new coronavirus, on the outskirts of Allahabad on April 12. (shutterstock.com photo)
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The cardinal said that although Catholics in India are a minority “we can help so many people in need.”

The Caritas study focused on the people’s basic needs, livelihood, their rights and entitlements, discrimination, and exploitation of migrants.

The research revealed that 28.7 percent of migrants do not want to come back to the cities, whereas 32.1 percent showed their willingness to return when the situation gets alright.

At least 31.3 percent are still undecided.

Majority of migrants interviewed — 95.2 percent — said they lost their means of livelihood while about 10.6 percent lost their family members in the pandemic.

Among farming communities, the research found that farmers are worried about the coming harvest season as great financial losses have been incurred in the previous season.

The research noted that only 55.4 percent of farmers have received support from both the government and NGOs while 9.4 percent have not accessed any support.

Food security is also threatened as 49 percent of the surveyed household have limited availability of food stock and about 16.5 percent of the respondents skipped meals in the last 10 days.

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