Survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse must not be ignored

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THE findings of an investigation that the physical health of survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse has deteriorated in the nine years since the disaster, particularly during the Covid outbreak, are worrying as it suggests that survivors received inadequate government support over the years and little or no support during the outbreak. The collapse of the Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013 left at least 1,138 people dead and around 2,500 injured. The Action Aid study, released on April 18, says around 56.5% of 200 survivors surveyed complain of headaches, back pain and hand or leg pain. What is even more worrying is that the situation seems to have worsened during the Covid epidemic. The study shows that physical health remains fairly stable for 33% and completely stable for 10.5% of respondents while the figures were 58.5% and 27.5% in 2021. The number of survivors suffering from problems mental health, meanwhile, rose to 48.5% from 12.5% ​​of respondents in one year. The situation highlights the lack of government support for survivors.

The study also indicates that most survivors expect government support in the form of job opportunities, easy loans to start a business and access to health care. The income of most working survivors has dropped drastically following the economic shock of Covid. About 63.5% of survivors had difficulty buying food, 51.5% could not pay their rent and 46.5% had to borrow to survive during the epidemic. That the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse, who are part of the garment industry that would be one of the pillars of the national economy, have not received adequate support from the government, especially in amidst the difficulties of Covid, is unacceptable. The government has provided a stimulus package to major industries, including the garment sector, to deal with the economic fallout from Covid. But it is clear that the survivors of one of the worst industrial disasters were not at the center of the government’s concerns. The government and the owners of the Rana Plaza building and the factories therein were all, in one way or another, responsible for the disaster which left survivors with physical pain and mental trauma. The government and all other parties involved must therefore in no way abdicate their responsibilities to the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse.

The government must therefore immediately provide the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse with cash and other aid. While the government and relevant authorities must develop a long-term plan to assist survivors, survivors’ access to treatment and rehabilitation must be ensured.

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