Homeless in Delhi battle diseases in rainy season
NEW DELHI: The cold gets them in winter, in monsoon it is disease.
Homeless in the city suffer the year round.
According to data available with Delhi Police, the number of unidentified bodies found in the first 12 days of January this year is about the same as the number found in the first 12 days of July.
Between January 1 and 12, 98 unidentified bodies were found in Delhi. Between July 1 and July 12 this number was 94.
While it is impossible to find out how many of these were homeless, the police say an average of 60% found dead on Delhi’s roads and fields fall in the category.
That makes the number of homeless deaths 59 in January and 54 in July.
According to experts who work with the homeless, waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases as well as skin ailments are fairly common in the homeless population during monsoon.
Some, who are not cared for, die by the time the monsoon season ends in September.
“In the health camps we hold, we find there are a number of homeless who are suffering from diarrhoea, influenza and sink diseases. Some suffer from dengue. Heat stroke is very common. Sadly, our thoughts about the homeless are limited only to bricks and blankets in the winters,” said Sanjay Kumar of the Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, an organisation that has been working with the homeless for over 15 years and manages 30 homeless shelters in the city.
The occupancy rates of homeless shelters, which offer not only shelter but also support in the form of a community, also fall after the cold winter months. SANJAY KUMAR, Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan
According to data available with the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, while in January the occupancy rates in permanent night shelters are an average 10,000 people for a space of 16,000, in July, this comes down to about 4,000.
Accessing healthcare facilities is not easy for the homeless people who live without the supportive framework of NGOs and community that homeless shelters can provide.
“The biggest problem is we don’t tackle the root of homelessness and don’t try to integrate a homeless person in the society. The efforts that are made in winters to bring the community together disintegrate in March as Delhi gets warmer. The homeless population is also very heterogeneous and floating, adding to the problem,” said Kumar.
In the health camps we hold... Some suffer from dengue. Heat stroke is very common. Sadly, our thoughts about the homeless are limited only to bricks and blankets in the winters.
While in January, the occupancy rates in night shelters are an average 10,000 people for a space of 16,000, in July, this comes down to about 4,000. SONU MEHTA / HT FILE PHOTO