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India's migrant workers face lockdown misery

Church leader urges government to help itinerant workers as Covid-19 batters the economy

India's migrant workers face lockdown misery

An Indian policeman speaks to Pakistani nationals planning to return home from Amritsar on March 25 while no public transport is available on the first day of a 21-day national lockdown to tackle Covid-19. (Photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP)

Migrant workers in Indian capital New Delhi are facing serious problems after the national lockdown to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 ordered all of the country’s 1.37 billion people to stay inside their homes for the next 21 days to try to beat the virus, triggering a mass exodus of migrant workers who now face uncertainty.

“Whenever there is a pandemic, rioting or a political crisis, the first to suffer the most are migrant workers, and even this time there is no exception and we are helpless to support the poor workers,” Father Jaison Vadassery, secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India’s commission for migrants, told UCA News.

“If we had been informed earlier by the government or higher authorities, many organizations including the Church would have been able to help migrant workers, but unfortunately that did not happen. We are still trying to help them by urging the government to implement mechanisms to reach them."

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