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Burmese refugees in India

Websites/Multiple Documents

Title: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC)
Description/subject: Has material on the Burmese refugees in India as well as Indian refugee legislation and policy. Search for Burma.
Language: English
Source/publisher: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 July 2003

Individual Documents

Title: Burma’s Rohingya Stuck in Refugee Limbo in India
Date of publication: 15 September 2014
Description/subject: "When Kohinoor, a stateless Rohingya Muslim, fled her home in Burma after a wave of attacks by majority Buddhists, she hoped for a chance to rebuild her life in a new country. She knew she would have to trek for days with little food and water and risk her life being smuggled across borders by traffickers. But she and her family did not imagine their present life of destitution and discrimination in India, the country they had chosen as their refuge. “We were chased out of Burma. We were chased out of Bangladesh. Now we are in India, the people here tell us that India is not our country. So where will we go?” asked Kohinoor, 20, sitting in a makeshift tent on a patch of wasteland in southern Delhi..."
Author/creator: Nita Balla
Language: English
Source/publisher: Reuters via "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 22 August 2015

Title: Chin Refugees Coexist and Survive in India
Date of publication: 28 April 2012
Description/subject: 9 photos of Chin/Zo refugees in India
Language: English
Source/publisher: Project Maje via "The Irrawaddy"
Format/size: html. jpeg
Date of entry/update: 11 May 2012

Title: Burmese Refugees in Delhi - The Travails of everyday life
Date of publication: 29 September 2011
Description/subject: "India lacks a coherent legal framework for the protection of refugees, treating them simply as non-citizens who may be a potential threat to society. As a result of this treatment, which is also reflected in societal attitudes, many of India’s refugees suffer severe hardship. The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre ( SAHRDC) recently interviewed seven representative Burmese refugees about their experiences as refugees in Delhi. Each of the seven refugees detailed a grim life of poverty and insecurity, often accompanied by physical danger. Their stories underscore the urgent need for India to adopt national legislation that grants refugees rights and protects them from exploitation and abuse inherent in the vulnerable situation in which refugees find themselves...Conclusion: Coherent national legislation granting refugees rights and protections in India could go a long way toward alleviating the climate of fear and insecurity in which Burmese refugees live in India. It could start to shift governmental and societal attitudes towards refugees. Instead of the current legal framework that sees foreign threats everywhere; new legislation could send the right message that refugees are not threats but rather persons unfairly persecuted by their country of origin who deserve India’s protection..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre ( SAHRDC)
Format/size: pdf (54K)
Date of entry/update: 30 September 2011

Title: Caste Out
Date of publication: June 2010
Description/subject: A rigid social class system adds to the troubles of Burmese who seek a better life in India... "Life is never easy for Burmese migrants and refugees, but those in India are burdened with a handicap absent from the difficulties faced by those who place their hopes in Burma’s other neighboring countries. That handicap is India’s controversial caste system. The traditional system, which divides India into rigidly defined social classes, has no recognized place for Burmese immigrants, most of whom are relegated to the lowest rank, lower even than India’s “untouchables.” ..."
Author/creator: Zarni Mann
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 6
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 August 2010

Title: India: Close the Gap for Burmese Refugees
Date of publication: 09 December 2009
Description/subject: "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."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Refugees International
Format/size: pdf (110K)
Date of entry/update: 10 December 2009

Title: Waiting on the Margins - An Assessment of the Situation of the Chin Community in Delhi, India
Date of publication: April 2009
Description/subject: Executive Summary: The steep mountain chains and deep valley gorges in Burma’s northwestern Chin State is the homeland of some 1.5 million ethnic Chin. Due to ongoing human rights abuses, severe restrictions on basic freedoms, and widespread poverty within Chin State, only 500,000 ethnic Chin remain in Chin State. More than two-thirds of the Chin population have fled to other parts of Burma and neighboring countries in a quest for protection and survival. Some 100,000 Chin are currently living in uncertain conditions in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, which shares a border with Burma’s Chin State. Another 4,200 Chin have made their way to Delhi with the hope of obtaining protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Another 30,000 Chin have fled to Malaysia also with the hope of finding some form of protection and security. This report examines the lack of protection and adequate living conditions of Chin refugees and asylum-seekers in Delhi. As India is not a party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, few protections are available to Chins living in Delhi. Although UNHCR is currently registering and recognizing refugees in Delhi, the Chin face long wait times due to processing delays. Resettlement is unduly slow and opportunities are limited. Although the Indian government allows UNHCR-recognized Chin refugees to obtain residential permits to stay in Delhi, the process to obtain such permits is complicated by redundant documentation requirements, corruption, and unnecessary delays. While protection and permanent solutions are long in coming for the Chin community in Delhi, their wait is made more urgent by untenable living conditions, a lack of adequate and acceptable livelihoods, poor health, an inability for their children to receive an education, and the impossibility of integrating with the local community. Although UNHCR supports several programs to provide for and improve the welfare of Chin refugees, many of these programs are inadequate and ineffective to meet the needs of the community. Access to such programs are limited to UNHCR-recognized Chin refugees, excluding those not yet registered with UNHCR and those with cases pending before UNHCR. Considering the human rights situation in Burma and ongoing violations against basic human rights and freedoms in Chin State, the Chin people of Burma will continue to require protection and accommodation in neighboring countries in the foreseeable future. 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.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
Format/size: pdf (3MB)
Date of entry/update: 07 April 2009

Title: Without refuge: Chin refugees in India and Malaysia
Date of publication: 22 April 2008
Description/subject: Most Chin refugees have never set foot in a refugee camp; they live as urban and undocumented refugees in India and Malaysia.
Author/creator: Amy Alexander
Language: English, Burmese
Source/publisher: "Forced Migration Review" No. 30
Format/size: pdf (English, 334K; Burmese, 194K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR30Burmese/36-37.pdf
Date of entry/update: 30 November 2008

Title: Shame of the Forgotten Refugees
Date of publication: April 2007
Description/subject: Tens of thousands of Burmese Chin lead a shadowy existence in India's remote Mizoram State..."...Tens of thousands of Chin live in Mizoram illegally, slipping easily through a long, porous border. They cross over to earn money to send back home, or to escape poverty or persecution by the Burmese military. But without legal status and proper permits, the Chin usually get the lowest-paid jobs, in road and construction work, markets, restaurants or as domestics. As porters they carry produce to the market in huge cone-shaped baskets fixed by straps to their foreheads. Others sell goods spread out o­n the ground. The Chin lacking proper documentation generally face deportation if they are arrested by police and cannot afford the usual bribe of 200 to 500 rupees (US $4.50 to $11). Weavers among the Chin tend to fare better. They are skilled laborers in an important sector of the local economy, and this usually spares them harassment..."
Author/creator: Tamara Terziana
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 4
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 04 May 2008

Title: RAZOR'S EDGE: Survival Crisis for Refugees from Burma in Delhi, India
Date of publication: November 2004
Description/subject: "The situation for refugees from Burma in Delhi, the capital city of India, has reached a survival crisis point. About 1,500 post-1988 refugees from Burma live in Delhi. An estimated 1,300 or more are of the Chin ethnic group from western Burma, with others from western Burma's Arakan State (estimated at 30 to 50), northern Burma's Kachin State (estimated at about 100), and elsewhere in Burma (estimated at 30 to 50.) They have been gradually losing their Subsistence Allowance stipends from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the point that such money is about to essentially vanish by the end of 2004. The small UNHCR payments (approximately US$30 to $11 a month for "head of household" adults, with an additional amount for children) have been shared among the refugees for the most basic living expenses. Alternatives for income earning for the refugees in Delhi are nearly nonexistent, as refugees would have to compete with native-born Indians, and even foreigners who seem more "Indian," for scarce employment. In October 2004, Project Maje met with members of Delhi's refugee community in the Vikaspuri neighborhood. The contacts took place in a session with representatives of refugee organizations, visits to two refugee housing units, and at a group assembly of refugees. This brief report is a summary of impressions from those contacts..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Project Maje
Format/size: html (23K)
Date of entry/update: 15 November 2004

Title: Denied Hope, Denied Respect:
Date of publication: 12 June 2003
Description/subject: "With temperatures approaching the high 40s, hundreds of Burmese refugees in New Delhi held a demonstration on 9 June, protesting the refusal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to grant them refugee certificates and Subsistence Allowance (SA). The demonstration, the most recent in a series of protests organized by members of the Burmese refugee community, highlights a number of severe problems faced by refugees in New Delhi...The current situation for many Burmese refugees in Delhi is perilous. The recent violence and detention of pro democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi does not augur well for their already vulnerable condition. Without a secure legal status, and with limited capacity for economic self-sufficiency, the withdrawal of financial support by UNHCR will place many in a situation of considerable risk. As SAHRDC’s research has shown, UNHCR in India has been failing to fulfil its mandate. It does not adequately protect the refugees within its jurisdiction and has failed to seek out and promote realistic durable solutions. These failings are compounded by the manner in which the UNHCR office and its employees have treated the refugee community. As a result, refugees have a fundamental lack of trust in the organisation..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Asia-Pacific Human Rights Network/South Asia Human Rights Documentatoin Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 02 July 2003

Title: The Long and Winding Road to Asylum
Date of publication: November 2002
Description/subject: "Burmese refugees in New Delhi have traveled a hard road in their pursuit of legal recognition. The agency responsible for assisting these asylum-seekers has not made their lives any easier... "The road for a refugee is only as long as you make it," reads a poster hanging in the lobby of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi. Outside, over 200 asylum seekers from Burma are protesting in front of the compound, pleading for interviews, for recognition as a refugee, and for a simple piece of paper confirming their status as a "person of concern", which would allow them to stay legally in India. Nearly half of the demonstrators say that their asylum applications have already been rejected by the UNHCR for unknown reasons. Others continue to wait for the organization to hear their cases despite arriving in New Delhi months ago. Asylum seekers, human rights lawyers and Indian activists say that besides the confusing application process, the mission in New Delhi also lacks accountability, offers no support system for refugees whose asylum status is pending�for over one year in some cases�and is trying to implement unrealistic programs of self-reliance for the refugees. To make the recognition process run more smoothly, demonstrators say refugees deserve greater attention and compassion from UNHCR officials. Moreover, they say the influence of the Indian government now pervades all facets of the refugee�s existence..."
Author/creator: Tony Broadmoor
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 10, No. 9
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Refugees from Burma need US protection
Date of publication: 30 April 2002
Description/subject: Fact Finding Trip to New Delhi by Zo T. Hmung April 17-30, 2002 Executive Summary: "I spent April 17-30, 2002, in New Delhi to assess options for durable solutions for refugees from Burma who reside in the Indian capital. "According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi, as of the end of March 2002, there are 952 people from the country of Burma recognized as refugees by the UNHCR. Out of 952 refugees, 90 percent of them belong to Chin ethnic groups. The rest are Burmese, Arakanese, Shan, and Kachin. They include torture survivors, women, children, elderly people, and people persecuted because of their ethnicity, religion, and prodemocracy activism. "During my trip, I met with Wei-Meng Lim-Kabaa, UNHCR Deputy Chief of Mission, Kathy A. Redman, Officer in Charge Immigration, Attache of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and Mr. Christopher George, YMCA Refugee Program Coordinator. I also met with over 250 refugees in one large meeting, met six times with 10 key leaders from the refugee community, conducted five interviews at refugees' apartments, spent most of my time visiting their housing and neighborhoods, and gathered voluminous information regarding their current hardship and vulnerability and their compelling reasons for fleeing Burma. "These groups are distinguishable from other refugee groups in India. For years, they had been living in suburban areas of New Delhi without future hope for a better life. They are unable to obtain jobs. Because they are Christians, they cannot feel comfortable and are not welcomed in the local Hindu community. They are unable to speak the local language, which is Hindi. Their children are unable to attend school. Psychologically, they are traumatized. They cannot go back to Burma because Burma is still under the rule of a military regime. Most importantly, they can be deported back to Burma at any time even though they are recognized as refugees by the UNHCR." Unfortunately, the UNHCR has referred only a dozen cases to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) authority in New Delhi. At the same time, the U.S. INS in New Delhi does not take a case unless UNHCR refers a case to them. The INS does not accept walk-in cases. Therefore, they are in need of special protection by the U.S. The U.S. Department of State should designate them as refugees and process their cases. This would be a durable solution for them. The Chin community in the U.S. would be very happy to welcome these refugees..."
Author/creator: Zo T. Hmung
Language: English
Format/size: HTML (206K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Evaluation of UNHCR’s policy on refugees in urban areas: A case study review of New Delhi
Date of publication: November 2000
Description/subject: Though the Chin refugees in Delhi are not mentioned, their legal situation is the same as that of the Afghan refugees who are the subject of this study.
Author/creator: Naoko Obi and Jeff Crisp
Language: English
Source/publisher: UNHCR Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit
Format/size: pdf (120K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&comid=4a2396946&cid=49aea93a6a&am...*
Date of entry/update: 20 December 2010

Title: Ethnic political crisis in the Union of Burma
Date of publication: 25 October 2000
Description/subject: (A Brown Bag Seminar organized by the Council for Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA). "Approximately, Burma has a population of 48 million people. Of those 48 million, 68% are Burman, and the rest, 32 %, belong to the ethnic groups such as Arakanese, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Shan, etc. These are only estimated statistics as there is no proper documented information available inside Burma. The ethnic people have their own religions, culture, and languages. There are different religions such as Buddhism, Muslim, Christianity, and Hinduism. Burmans belong to the majority religion, Buddhism while most ethnic Chins and Kachins are Christians. The ethnic political issue is important to Burma's politics. Because in order to put an end to civil war, which has spanned over half a century in Burma, the ethnic political crisis must first be resolved in accordance with the full consent of the ethnic minority people. Therefore, Burma's political history, especially how the minority and the majority groups came to live together under the Union government, needs to be addressed..." (A Brown Bag Seminar organized by the Council for Southeast Asia Studies, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Author/creator: Zo T. Hmung
Language: English
Format/size: HTML (66K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Refugee Protection in India
Date of publication: October 1997
Description/subject: Deals with Indian refugee legislation and policy. "A large number of ethnic Chin and other tribal refugees have escaped repression from the Burmese military and entered the Indian state of Mizoram. The presence of Chin refugees from the Chin State of Burma, Nagas from Burma, Rakhain refugees from Arakan State in Burma, and ethnic Nepalese of Bhutanese nationality is not acknowledged by the Government of India. The largest among these refugees groups is the Chins, numbering about 40,000. While the Burmese Nagas have sought refuge in the Indian State of Nagaland, the Chins and Rakhains have sought refuge in Indian State of Mizoram.(47) Though they have generally assimilated into Indian society, their living standards are still poor. They can be described as Category III refugees since neither the Indian Government nor UNHCR recognize their presence. Moreover, the Chin do not receive state assistance or international assistance because of their ambiguous status. They have been left unto themselves in a foreign land where they have no means for survival. The Mizoram State Government has forcibly repatriated many Chin refugees since 1994. While it was not reported in the press, a senior official of the Mizoram State Government confirmed to a SAHRDC representative that a large number of Chin refugees indeed had been forcibly returned to Burma by the State Government in 1994.(48)..." (These are the only paras specifically on refugees from Burma).
Language: English
Source/publisher: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Survival, Dignity and Democracy: Burmese Refugees in India
Date of publication: 1997
Description/subject: "Since September 1988, when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) came to power, approximately one million Burmese nationals have fled to neighboring states. Approximately 55,000 Burmese nationals are currently in India, however, of that number, only about 467 are recognized and protected refugees of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in India. This report focuses on the plight of Burmese refugees in India, in particular, the predicament of Burmese nationals who remain unrecognized and unassisted in the North Eastern frontier, and the situation of the refugee population in Delhi..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: The Situation of Burmese Refugees in Asia: Special Focus on India
Date of publication: 1995
Description/subject: " The South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (SAHRDC) has closely been monitoring the situation of the Burmese refugees in Asia with special focus on India. Hundreds of pro-democracy activists took shelter in border states of North east India. The staunch support of pro-democracy movement by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi made students in Yangoon to seek help from India. However, after five years diplomatic stand-off, Prime Minister Narashima Rao sent Mr J N Dixit to Yangoon in April 1993 to mend fences with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). The Deputy Foreign Minister of Burma also visited New Delhi early 1994 and exerted pressure upon New Delhi to stop anti-SLORC activities..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Country Report on the Refugee Situation in India
Date of publication: 1994
Description/subject: "A few hundred refugees belonging to the ethnic Nagas have sought shelter in Manipur and Mizoram in 1991 after the Burmese military started a crack down on the Naga and other insurgents on the side of Burma. They were not recognized as refugees by the Government of India but allowed to stay in India. A large number of ethnic Chin and other tribal refugees also sought refuge in Indian State of Mizoram to escape from repression by the Burmese military authorities. However, State Government of Mizoram has allegedly forcibly repatriated many Chin refugees living in the State in 1994. While it was not reported in the press, a senior official of the Mizoram State Government confirmed on animosity to a SAHRDC representative that a large number of the Chin refugees were forcibly repatriated by the State Government in 1994..." (only these paras in the report deal with refugees from Burma)
Language: English
Source/publisher: South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003