Adjustment disorder grips relief camps in Manipur

Manipur Unrest: Trauma among displaced women, children in relief camps

ByB Rakesh Sharma

Updated 8 Dec 2023, 2:55 am

(File Photo: IFP)
(File Photo: IFP)

In the midst of the protracted seven-month-long unrest in Manipur, a harrowing psychological toll is taking place among the women and children who had been displaced and left stranded at relief camps where privacy is almost non-existent.

These vulnerable sections, particularly the women and children are facing severe mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and PTSDs, while already going through displacement, uncertainty, and trauma caused by the conflict.

Relief camps which are meant to provide refuge are confronted with limited space, resources, and a lack of mental health support. The IDPs often find themselves crammed into shelters that were never designed to accommodate large numbers of people.

As per a study conducted by the Imphal Free Press, a normal size room in most of the relief camps opened across the valley districts accommodates approximately five to 10 persons with sharing beds.

Such lack of personnel spaces exacerbates the stress and anxiety felt by those who have already experienced the trauma of being uprooted from their homes. Many women in relief camps, particularly adolescent girls who do not want to be identified, expressed discomfort of sharing toilets, bathrooms with male counter inmates.


“We know that people are giving us shelter on humanitarian grounds, but there is always a discomfort as our private space is almost compromised. Sometimes, I feel like I want to cry alone in a room, but I do not have that opportunity. I know that is our fate and cannot blame anyone except to those miscreants who burnt our houses and made us a refugee in our own motherland,” lamented Thoibi (name changed).    

Mental health activist Dr RK Lenin in an interview with the Imphal Free Press, highlighted the pervasive lack of privacy in relief camps, exacerbating the trauma faced by displaced families particularly among women and children.

He said that the absence of personal space intensifies stress, making it challenging for women to cope with anxiety and emotional distress. After all, they have directly faced the trauma of the conflict, he added.

Stressing possible drawbacks of lack of private space in relief camps, Dr Lenin stated that there are chances of arising unwanted relationships among the male and female counterparts.
One IDP Chaobi (name changed), a mother of three, described the challenges of providing emotional stability to her children in an environment filled with uncertainty.

“We do not know when we can return home. It is affecting my children. They ask questions I do not have answers to,” she lamented adding, “Inside, I feel lost and crying but I kept hiding my tears from my children.”

Her elder child who is now admitted to a school near her relief camp said, “I like my new school and my new mates, but I still want to play with my old friends at our courtyard and sleep at our old house.

As per their mother, none of her children know that their house back at Churachandpur was burnt down to ashes and their entire locality bulldozed.


She further maintained that loud noises still scares most of the children in the camp including her children, highlighting the distressing impact upon the youngest victims of the unrest.

In this regard, Dr Lenin expressed deep concern about the heightened vulnerability of the children towards such disorders, emphasising the urgent need for mental health support tailored to their unique needs.

“The conditions here are dire. Many of these women and children have witnessed or experienced violence. The constant fear and uncertainty take a toll on their mental well-being,” he said.

While many humanitarian organisations are sounding the alarm, emphasising the critical need for increased funding and specialised mental health services, the government at the same time is also coping up to provide pre-fabricated homes to all the displaced, providing counselling and working on resettlement programmes.

“The present effort for the well-being and the mental health of IDPs is not sufficient. The mental health aspect of this crisis cannot be overlooked. More action is required to address the trauma these women and children are enduring,” said Dr Lenin.

As Manipur grapples with over seven months of unrest, it is evident that addressing the psychological impact on displaced women and children is not just a humanitarian imperative but crucial for the long-term stability and well-being of the affected communities.


First published:


manipur violencedisplaced womenrelief camps in manipur

B Rakesh Sharma

B Rakesh Sharma

Staff Reporter, Imphal


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