Delhi: Helpline for migrants sees spike in SOS calls

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A network of volunteers which has been running a helpline for stranded migrants since last March has reported a spike in the number of distress calls from migrant workers in Delhi this week.

Stranded Workers’ Action Network (SWAN) had written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday asking for extension of ration to non-holders of PDS cards and rent support in the light of findings made while assessing the needs of these callers.

“Since the last week of April 2021, we have received a deluge of SOS calls from Delhi, which has grown exponentially in the past three days. We have been able to assess a total of 268 calls (comprising approximately 1,200 plus migrants and their family members) from Delhi since May 1, 2021, of which 137 (around 300 people) calls were attended to in the last four days,” read the letter by SWAN members. They also stated that they were only able to attend an average of 1 in 10 of the calls made to them, and that these numbers are only that of the calls they attended.

Echoing the vulnerabilities faced by migrant workers during the 2020 lockdown, they reported that the needs assessment done by them of the callers showed that 62% of them had not had a job for 20 days or more; 85% of the callers had less than Rs 100 with them at the time of calling; 82% had less than two days’ worth of ration left with them; 53% had not been paid or had been partially paid their dues by their employers; and 63% did not have a ration card. They also stated that many callers were under pressure to pay rent.



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