Myanmarese refugees protest, demand resettlement from UN  

New Delhi, 19 June (IANS) Hundreds of Myanmarese refugees held protest at the UNHCR, the United Nations agency for refugees, here on Friday, demanding the basic resettlement rights as guaranteed by the United Nations.

Men, women, young and old from the Chin community of Myanmar (formerly Burma) held placards reading “Provide us resettlement” outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Vasant Vihar, ahead of the World Refugee Day on June 20.

“It is our basic right to get the UN assistance. We are living a miserable life here,” Rodingliani, a volunteer who organised the protest, told IANS.

The Chin refugees have been coming from Myanmar to Delhi since 1980s as asylum seekers.

Their demands include transparency in resettlement of the refugees, and basic education and medical care facilities.

“We need food, living space and medical needs,” Tin Duh Thang, president of the Chin community in India, said.

“The Rs.14.17 crore ($2.2 million) being sent from Geneva headquarters of UN for our resettlement are not reaching us,” Thang said. “All the money is sent to two Indian NGOs who have been tasked to support us. But we get nothing out of it.”

“We have already sought an appointment with the Chief of Mission of UNHCR thrice, but he did not give us any opportunity to keep our demands before him,” Rodingliani added.

A UNHCR official said: “We have asked the whole of the Burmese community to meet us next week. We will be happy to discuss and address the grievances of the whole community, not just the Chins.”

The official also added that the Chin community has had access to the UNHCR’s programmes.

Usha Saxena, the refugee desk coordinator at The Other Media – a platform for issues of public interest, said: “The attitude of UNHCR towards these refugees needs to change. They are often neglected. When the refugees come to meet the officials at UNHCR, they are forced to speak through barred gates — treating them like criminals.”

The UNHCR needs to consider the Chin community’s demands and maintain a transparent, democratic process, Saxena told IANS.

There are about 5,000 Chin people seeking refuge in Delhi. Myanmarese refugees have been fleeing to India through Mizoram due to the ongoing conflict in that country. “The situation in Burma is even more dangerous for ethnic minorities like Chins…,” Thang added.

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