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India: victims of ethnic clashes struggle to overcome adversity

04-02-2011 News Release 11/25

New Delhi (ICRC) – Clashes that broke out during the first week of January between the Garo and Rabha communities in the north-eastern Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya caused the displacement of approximately 50,000 civilians and the deaths of at least 12 people.

In response to the violence, the Assam and Meghalaya branches of the Indian Red Cross Society today started distributing emergency goods acquired by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"Displaced communities found shelter in transitory makeshift camps, where they are now facing a difficult situation due to a lack of suitable facilities and poor hygiene conditions," said Renuka Devi Barkataki, the chairman of the Assam state branch of the Indian Red Cross. "Our aid is focused on 10,000 people – approximately 2,000 families – who lost all their belongings, including their homes in Assam and Meghalaya."

The essential supplies distributed to each household include kitchen sets, blankets, buckets, jerrycans, plastic sheeting, mugs, and bath and laundry soaps. Local Red Cross volunteers will also be providing counselling and other support to help those worst affected overcome their trauma.

"We are working in close cooperation with the Indian Red Cross, so as to respond rapidly and effectively to the needs faced by these communities," said François Stamm, who heads the ICRC regional delegation in New Delhi. "Our joint response has enabled us to provide prompt assistance for the people who have been hardest hit."

The Indian Red Cross, a voluntary humanitarian organization with a network of over 700 branches throughout the country, provides relief in times of disaster or emergency and promotes health-enhancing measures for vulnerable people and communities.

The ICRC works around the world on a neutral basis to protect and assist people adversely affected by armed conflicts, internal disturbances and other situations of violence. The ICRC has had a permanent presence in India since 1982.

For further information, please contact:
Alexis Heeb, ICRC New Delhi, tel: +91 9711309561
Renuka Devi Barkataki, Assam state branch of the Indian Red Cross, tel: +91 -361- 2660210/9864507466
Also visit the website of the Indian Red Cross