Bylakuppe is a town in the Karnataka state, in the southwest of India. Around 70,000 Tibetans live in exile here, in the second largest Tibetan settlement in the world, with the first emigration starting in 1959, and new refugees still arrivingAs Tibetan refugees try to make a life for themselves in exile, they face man challenges, including food insecurity. Children are most vulnerable to these difficult living conditions.
Since 1982, Tibetan Children’s Villages, an independent charity which is partly supported through SOS Children’s Villages' sponsorships, has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Bylakkupe.
Food insecurity is still recurrent in Karnataka, where Bylakuppe is located, and many people still suffer from acute hunger.
Parents in Karnataka state struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children. And thus, 32% of children are underweight. To be more specific, 35% of children in Karnataka experience stunting (low height for age), a result from undernutrition. Furthermore, 19% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had food of adequate quality and quantity.
An estimated 70,000 Tibetan refugees live in exile in the settlements in Bylakuppe. They have often suffered repression which has led them to flee to India. The scars of such experiences remain with them. Many living in the settlements do not have Indian citizenship and they are therefore unable to buy land.
Young adults without Indian citizenship have to pay foreign student rates to study at Indian institutions, and can only afford it with the help of scholarships. Many Tibetan children are sent to Bylakuppe by their parents who see this as the only way that their child will obtain a Tibetan education.