NEWSTRACK INDIA: Chin suffers from inadequate access to protection in India

Chin suffers from inadequate access to protection in India
By Nava Thakuria
New Delhi, Tue, 07, April 2009

The Chin people of Burma, who are living in the Indian capital, suffers from less access to humanitarian relief and services by the local government and also the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in New Delhi.

In a new report released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization finds that Chin people seeking protection as refugees face prolonged wait-periods in extremely poor conditions with very little access to humanitarian relief.

The CHRO has appealed New Delhi and the UNHCR to ensure that Chin in Delhi have access to expedient and fair protection mechanisms as well as basic human necessities.

“So many Chin in Delhi live in deplorable conditions- without jobs, without basic amenities, without access to social services,” said Salai Bawi Lian Mang, executive director of CHRO adding “In fact, the Chin are refugees in desperate need of protection, but it takes years to gain protection by the UNHCR. Meanwhile, the Chin are living on the bare margins of society in Delhi.”

Currently, the estimated Chin population in Delhi is 4,200- the largest asylum-seeking population from Burma living in Delhi.

Sixty-six percent of the Chin community are unemployed and those who are employed typically work 10- to 12-hour days for less than Rs. 70 (US$1.35) per day. Illnesses are common and access to affordable and quality healthcare is limited. More than half of those Chin who died in 2007 and 2008 succumbed to easily treatable and preventable health problems, such as diarrhea, stated in a statement issued by CHRO from California.

Mentionable that, hundreds of thousands of people of Chin were forced to leave their homes in the Burmese province to escape from severe ethnic and religious persecution of the military regime. They arrive in India in search of security and the hope of enjoying basic freedoms. Currently, some 75,000 to 100,000 ethnic Chin from Burma are living on the India-Burma border State of Mizoram.

As UNHCR has no access and provides no protection to the Chin population living in Mizoram, the only available means of protection in India is to travel some 2,400 kilometers to Delhi. Due to the significant distance and expense of this trip, only a small minority of the Chin population in India is able to make it to Delhi. As of December 2008, the population of Chin in Delhi numbered 4,200.

Although UNHCR supports several programs to provide for and improve the welfare of the Chin community, many of these programs are inadequate and ineffective to meet the community needs. Access to such programs is limited to UNHCR-recognized refugees and more than half of the Chin community in New Delhi are not eligible to benefit from such programs.

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