Van Biak Thang
06 April, 2009
The Chin people stranded as refugees in India’s Delhi are in ‘extremely poor’ conditions with very limited access to humanitarian relief and in serious need of effective protection and services, a report released by Chin Human Rights Organisation (CHRO) said today.
The report Waiting on the margins: An assessment of the situation of Chin refugees in Delhi documented the ‘vulnerable’ living conditions of the Chin refugees with limited protections available to them and also highlighted the long awaited-and-delayed process of refugee issues handled by the UNHCR in India.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang, executive director of CHRO, said: “So many Chins in Delhi live in deplorable conditions - without jobs, without basic amenities, and without access to social services. In fact, the Chins are refugees in desperate need of protection, but it takes years to gain protection by the UNHCR. Meanwhile, the Chins are living on the bare margins of society in Delhi.” The report said: “Due to long processing delays at UNHCR, it takes on average more than two years to receive refugee recognition - four times longer than mandated by UNHCR guidelines. As a result, more than half of the Chin population in Delhi have cases pending with UNHCR and are not yet recognized as refugees. Without UNHCR-recognition, Chins are not eligible for essential social services and humanitarian relief provided by UNHCR-partner organizations.”
There are, according to CHRO’s report, currently some 75,000 to 100,000 ethnic Chins from Burma living on the India-Burma border in India’s north-eastern state of Mizoram and an estimated 4,200 living in Delhi, making it the largest asylum-seeking population from Burma in the second-largest metropolis of India.
Sixty-six percent of the Chin population in Delhi are, the report added, unemployed and even those employed earn only Rs. 70 (US$1.35) for 10 to 12 hours per day.
The report, while acknowledging, said of the programmes and services provided and supported by the UNHCR as ‘inadequate and ineffective’ so as to meeting the needs of Chin community. Access to such programmes is still limited to UNHCR-recognised refugees and more than half of the Chin population in Delhi are not even eligible to benefit from the programmes, it added.
CHRO urged the Indian government and the UNHCR to make sure the Chin people get unhindered access to effective protection and services including healthcare, education, accommodation and employment opportunities, and to minimize processing delays and corruption from obtaining protection. It also called for improving the current ‘inadequate’ humanitarian programs for the Chin community.
Since late 2006, the Chin people have been facing SPDC-neglected food crisis caused by a plague of rats that destroy food and crops following a once-in-fifty-year cycle of bamboo flowering phenomenon.
Due to an ongoing severe ethnic and religious persecution, and human rights abuses committed by Burma’s long-standing military regime, hundreds of thousands of Chin people have been forced to leave their homes in Chin State into neighbouring countries and beyond.
Chin Human Rights Organisation has produced a series of documentary reports including Religious Persecution: A Campaign of Ethnocide against Chin Christians in Burma in 2004, The Chin People of Burma: A Struggle for Survival in 2006, and Critical Point: Food Scarcity and Hunger in Burma’s Chin State in 2008.
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