The Biharis
In Bangladesh live between 240.000 and 300.000 Biharis, also called The Stranded Pakistanis, in 66 overcrowded bad conditioned camps. They have been living there since 1971 when Bangladesh became an independent country. The Biharis are originally from Bihar, in the eastern part India. They migrated to, what at that time was East Pakistan, to be a part of a Muslim country. When the Bangladeshi people fought to liberate East Pakistan from West Pakistan, the Biharis sided with West Pakistan as they felt they belonged to.

After the war the Biharis where forsaken in what was now Bangladesh as the Pakistani army and the Pakistani civilians were evacuated. They would all prefer go to West Pakistan as they felt Pakistani. However Pakistan would not accept them as refugees and now they found themselves unwelcome in both countries. Bangladesh placed the Biharis in refugee camps in Dhaka and in 13 other regions around Bangladesh. They where denied Bangladeshi citizenship and became stateless. Without the citizenship they have been living without rights. They were not allowed to vote, get a passport, have access to education and other services that Bangladeshi people had the right to.

In Geneva Camp - a Bihari camp - close to the center of Dhaka live more than 25.000 people squeezed together in less than 1km2. Most of them have been living here for two or three generations now.
For people here, everyday life is a constant struggle. Most of them have a low earning because they are not educated or locked out from the jobs, Bangladeshi people get. They are thus forced take the lowest income jobs and many are paid less than 1 $ a day. With such a low income many of the children also have to work to provide food. Every family has only one single room where they sleep, cook and wash their clothes. A family can count up to eight members so there are no place for private space. The rooms have no toilet or water supply, so they are all forced to use public toilets and water pumps in the camp. There are only 40 working toilets. Thats one for every 625 person.

Many of the people in Geneva Camp would like to move out of the camp and create a better life between the Bangladeshi people. But with the low income, bad education and oppression from the state they don’t have any other choice than to stay in the camp.