India: Close the gap for Burmese refugees

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Like Burma’s other neighbors, India hosts a large and growing refugee population, the majority of whom are Chin ethnic minorities. India generally tolerates the presence of Burmese refugees, but does not afford them any legal protection, leaving them vulnerable to harassment, discrimination, and deportation.

While India’s lack of a legal regime for refugees is a major impediment to addressing the needs of Burmese refugees, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and international donors need to explore creative ways to work within the existing framework to provide assistance and increase protection for this population.

Recommendations

    * The US government and other international leaders should support the Government of India’s efforts to develop and approve domestic refugee law to confer legal status and protection to Burmese refugees, among others. The Government of India should also allow UNHCR to access Burmese refugee populations throughout the country.
    * The UNHCR should work to refine its assistance programmes in India with the active cooperation of Chin community-based organisations.  International donors including the US, UK, EU and Australia should provide additional assistance to the UNHCR for these programmes.
    * International donors should explore providing resources to Chin community-based organisations and Indian civil society groups to increase assistance to refugees in Delhi and the Northeast. This funding should include resources to support capacity building for Chin community-based organizations.

Refugees International assessed the situation for Chin refugees in India in November 2009.

View the full report here.

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