FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Plato Van Rung Mang
Mai Dawt Chin
Chin in Delhi, India Lack Adequate Protection and Humanitarian Support
Delhi; April 3, 2009: In a new report released today, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) finds Chin in Delhi seeking protection as refugees face prolonged wait-periods in extremely poor conditions with very little access to humanitarian relief or services. CHRO calls on the Government of India and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to ensure Chin in Delhi have access to expedient and fair protection mechanisms as well as basic human necessities.
Waiting on the Margins: An Assessment of the Situation of Chin Refugees in Delhi documents the limited protections available to the Chin community and their living conditions in Delhi. 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, Chin are not eligible for essential social services and humanitarian relief provided by UNHCR-partner organizations.
“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. “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.
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 Delhi are not eligible to benefit from such programs.
For this reason, the Chin Human Rights Organization urges the Indian government and the UNHCR to:
* Ensure Chin refugees and asylum-seekers have unhindered access to effective and expedient protection mechanisms.
* Minimize processing delays and corruption that hinder members of the Chin community from obtaining protection and access to crucial benefits and services.
* Ensure Chin refugees and asylum-seekers have access to: acceptable and appropriate accommodations; stable and adequate sources of income and job opportunities; and quality and affordable healthcare and education.
* Promote, expand, and improve current humanitarian programs that benefit and serve members of the Chin community.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes in Chin State, Burma to escape severe ethnic and religious persecution committed by the military regime of Burma. 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 in India’s northeastern 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.
Full report is available at CHRO web