Waiting on the Margin: An Assessment of the Situation of the Chin Community in Delhi, India
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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.
Chin Human Right Organisation