KARACHI - Not much has changed for the bonded labourers who have gained freedom from bondage, in terms of deprivation, want, neglect and deplorable living conditions. The 5,965 freed bonded labourers residing in the Sikandarabad Hari Camp, Baba Saladin Hari Camp and Azadnagar Hari Camp in Sindh are living in inhumane and miserable conditions. Speaking at a Press Conference organised by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child on Friday, after a fact finding visit of the main camps of freed bonded labourers, Executive Director SPARC, Arshad Mehmood lamented that despite the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1992 there are thousands of men and women and children who are living in bondage also called modern day slavery. Those who have been freed with the help of the NGOs are faced with numerous problems due to lack of proper rehabilitation strategies. He added that the government of Pakistan had set up a Bonded Labour Fund with initial grant of Rs100 million. The basic criteria under the fund includes; resettlement in new homes, employment, skill development, proper health facilities, education and creation of self-employment in the farming sector. The fund, he said is with the Ministry of Labour and to this day the total amount has not been utilized. National Manager Media and Creative Unit SPARC Fazila Gulrez said that the problems identified by the freed bonded labourers were identical to what the Bonded Labour Fund was and is suppose to address. The main problem was of allotment of land to the poor haris, provision of basic needs such as water, electricity, school facilities for the children, proper health care systems and employment for both adult males and females and of great importance was the need for vocational training for better employment opportunities. It is indeed sad that these human beings are living not only below the poverty line but they are much below the poverty line where even taking a bath is a luxury. After need for permanent land, water is the most vital and important need of these people. Sense of proper sanitation and hygiene has no meaning and its absence is cause of skin diseases which is rampant here besides Hepatitis. There is no immediate medical assistance available for emergencies such as injury caused to adult and children working in the factories and while breaking stones. The one room school is vacant because there are no teachers available, the misery and deprivation is etched on the faces of the people who are trying desperately to survive. National Manager Bonded Labour SPARC Kashif Bajeer said SPARC has to date helped 5,965 bonded labourers gain freedom from modern day slavery. It has also been instrumental in providing CNICs to 9,632 bonded labourers, birth registration of 3,600 children, Benazir Income Support Programme for 455 women. SPARC has established a legal cell to provide free legal aid to the families of bonded labourers and has till date provided this facility to 254 bonded labourers and their families. There are at least 1.7 million people in bonded labour in agriculture sector all over Pakistan in general and particularly in southern Sindh and Punjab, who are living in miserable conditions on agriculture farms and brick kilns. This is in addition to the large number of bonded labourers in carpet weaving, mining etc., despite the fact that Pakistans Constitution and related laws abolish the evil practice of bonded labour. SPARC has been running bonded labour projects in Mithi, Umerkot, Sanghar and Hyderabad district of Sindh and also in Muzaffargarh in collaboration with TROCAIRE an international organisation.