The Young Tribal Women’s Network—a collective of women from Manipur and neighbouring north-eastern states—started as a WhatsApp group in May 2023, soon after violence between the dominant Meitei community and the Kuki-Zo tribes broke out in Manipur. The collective was formed to fulfil the urgent need for relief. Since then, we’ve been providing necessities such as blankets, medicines, and sanitary napkins to be dispatched to various relief camps across Manipur.
Initially, we catered to the rising requirement for basic amenities at relief camps in Imphal. Then we started working in neighbouring hill districts such as Kangpokpi, Chandel, and Senapati. However, a radical mob roaming the streets made it difficult for us to reach the relief camps. We couldn’t send our relief items through cargo or courier via air either as the mob made the Imphal airport inaccessible to us.
All of this is occurring against the backdrop of a pre-existing infrastructural deficit in the tribal areas, which have always lacked access to proper healthcare and other livelihood opportunities. The displaced persons are struggling for essentials such as rice, dal, medicines, blankets, and sanitary pads. Several new mothers have also faced issues in breastfeeding their newborns as the lack of nutritional food has made lactation difficult; in one case, this even led to the death of a baby. This is why there is also an immediate demand for baby food and other supplements. With our limited funds and access, we have chosen to focus on meeting these necessities, although we wish to expand our scope and provide post-trauma care and counselling as well.
Many neutral parties and persons bearing no allegiance to the conflicting groups have helped us in on-ground coordination and support. Due to the ongoing nature of the violence, we decided against mobilising individual field volunteers for their personal safety. Instead, we’re partnering with the Indian Red Cross Society, which has been actively providing relief in the area and has more access as an international body. We hope to help all those affected by this violence regardless of their ethnic identity, while praying for justice and peace to prevail.
Juliana also contributed to this article.
Kim and Anna are members of the Young Tribal Women’s Network.
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