Stranded people in Bangladesh are the focus of a new project being launched by Islamic Relief.

A group of Muslims who migrated from India to east Pakistan in the 1940s, they became “stranded” in 1971 when east Pakistan became independent and was renamed Bangladesh. They were denied both Pakistan and Bangladesh nationalities, and have been living in 66 camps across the country for around four decades.

The new programme is expected to improve the quality of their shelter, their access to community water and sanitation, and their livelihood options. It also includes empowering them with knowledge of their rights, health & nutrition and influencing governments and policies to support them. This is the first initiative from Islamic Relief Bangladesh for the stranded community where camps have been selected from Dhaka city, considering their extreme vulnerability in every sector of basic needs.

A workshop held in Dhaka last week to launch the project was attended by representatives of the Stranded Pakistanis General Repatriation Committee (SPGRC), including president Abdul Jabbar Khan. They recommended bringing NGOs together to work on the scheme, forming a partnership with the government to address the problem, integrating the programme with education facilities, and campaigning for a large-scale rehabilitation project in the future.

The president of the SPGRC thanked Islamic Relief for initiating the project and said his community would support it.

The chair of the programme, Shabel Firuz, who is country director for Islamic Relief Bangladesh, emphasised that our work is irrespective of race, religion, colour, and identity and our commitment to supporting the stranded communities.