The article analyses a report titled ‘A Shadow of Refuge: Rohingya Refugees in India,’ jointly prepared by The Azadi Project and Refugees International. It states that India is not allowing exit permissions for Rohingya refugees who have completed refugee status determinations with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and have gained approval from third countries for resettlement. (Source: The Hindu, 19th May, 2023)
What is the context?
A new report titled ‘A Shadow of Refuge: Rohingya Refugees in India’ has been released recently.
- Report reveals India’s refusal to grant exit permissions to Rohingya refugees despite their UNHCR determinations.
- Jointly prepared by The Azadi Project and Refugees International, the report advocates for stateless people’s rights.
Key points of report:
Resettlement Opportunities and Vilification
- India should advocate for resettlement in ally countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, and other European nations at forums like the G-20 summit.
- They face disallowance to leave for resettlement and are vilified as “illegal migrants.”
- They endure growing anti-Muslim and anti-refugee xenophobia and live in constant fear of deportation to Myanmar.
Harsh Living Conditions and Downgrading of UNHCR Cards
- Rohingya refugees live in slum-like settlements lacking safe water, toilets, healthcare, education, and job opportunities.
- Previously, UNHCR cards provided access to education, livelihoods, and protection from detention and deportation.
- The government now considers UNHCR refugee status without valid travel documents inconsequential.
Recommendations for Recognition and Residency
- India must formally recognize them as asylum-seekers and sign the Refugee Convention.
- Alternatively, a simple acknowledgment of residency through recognition of UNHCR cards or provision of Aadhaar cards should be implemented.
- Better treatment of refugees enhances India’s global credibility and serves national security interests.
Urging U.S. Support and Engagement
- The U.S. should raise concerns over detention, deportation, and the status of Rohingya in India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the White House and the G-20 summit.
- This engagement can address the challenges faced by Rohingya refugees in India.
- The report sheds light on India’s denial of exit permissions to Rohingya refugees, their harsh living conditions, and the need for recognition and improved treatment.
- India’s support and engagement, along with international cooperation, can provide better prospects for the Rohingya community.
India’s stand on Rohingya crisis
India has cautiously approached the Rohingya crisis, considering both humanitarian concerns and national security interests. The crisis involves persecution and displacement of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, leading to a large influx of refugees into neighboring countries, including Bangladesh.
- India is hosting a significant number of Rohingya refugees, around 40,000 according to UNHCR. However, India hasn’t ratified the Refugee Convention, treating them as illegal immigrants.
- India’s focus on the Rohingya crisis primarily revolves around national security concerns. The government is worried about potential security threats, including involvement in illegal activities and alleged links to extremist groups.
- In 2017, India planned to deport Rohingya refugees due to national security concerns. The Supreme Court intervened, issuing orders to protect them, recognizing the principle of non-refoulment.
- India has engaged diplomatically with Myanmar and Bangladesh, emphasizing the safe and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar while protecting their safety and rights.
- India has provided humanitarian assistance to refugees, including aid to displaced populations in Bangladesh. It has also supported development projects in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to address the crisis’s root causes.
India’s stance reflects a delicate balance between humanitarian concerns and national security, with support for Rohingya refugees and efforts towards a sustainable resolution.
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