Survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse must not be ignored

THE findings of a survey that the physical health of survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse has deteriorated in the nine years since the disaster, especially during the Covid outbreak, are worrying because this suggests that the survivors did not receive adequate support from the government over the years and little to no support during the outbreak. The Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013 left at least 1,138 dead and some 2,500 injured. The Action Aid study, released on April 18, says about 56.5 percent of the 200 survivors surveyed complain of headache, back pain, and hand or leg pain. More worrying is that the situation appears to have worsened during the Covid outbreak. The study shows that physical health remains somewhat stable for 33 percent and completely stable for 10.5 percent of people surveyed, while the figures were 58.5 percent and 27.5 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of survivors suffering from mental health problems rose to 48.5 percent from 12.5 percent of people surveyed in one year. The situation highlights the government’s lack of support for survivors.

The study also says that most survivors expect government support in the form of job opportunities, easy loans to start businesses, and access to health care. The income of most survivors who are employed fell sharply as a result of the Covid economic shock. Approximately 63.5% of survivors had difficulty buying food, 51.5% were unable to pay rent, and 46.5% had to take out loans to survive during the outbreak. It is unacceptable that the survivors of the collapse of Rana Plaza, part of the garment sector said to be one of the pillars of the national economy, have not received adequate support from the government, especially amid the difficulties of Covid. The government has provided a stimulus package for big 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 in the government’s crosshairs. The government and the owners of the Rana Plaza building and the factories housed therein were all responsible in one way or another for the disaster that left survivors with physical pain and mental trauma. The government and all other parties involved must therefore not shirk their responsibilities towards the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse in any way.

Therefore, the government must immediately provide cash and other aid to the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse. While the government and relevant authorities must devise a long-term plan to help survivors, survivors’ access to treatment and rehabilitation must be guaranteed.

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