Friday, February 28, 2014

Afghan Refugees in India Fear Return

Compiled by Ishita Dey

As of 2011, there were more than 18000 refugees in India (External Affairs Ministry) and out of them 10,000 reportedly were registered with UNHCR. Though international statistics of UNHCR show voluntary repatriation of 5.7 million people in the last ten years, some 2.7 million people continue live in exile in neighbouring countries. According to the report “Afghan Refugees in India refuse to return fearing violence” (The Outlook), most of the refugees were forced to flee Afghanistan and struggled to make a living in Delhi. One of the refugees point out that though people are retuning back, they continue to live life in conflict torn Afghanistan with no jobs or money. Fearing an uncertain future most people do not want to go back. Some also point out that they fear that once the NATO troops are withdrawn, the Taliban might take over. The fear of the past looms large as refugees continue to struggle and negotiate with the changing rules and modalities of documentation in India, as India is a non-signatory to 1951 convention. The Government of India, as the report suggests has started issuing long term visas and according to a UNHCR official, some of the Chin refugees from Myanmar have obtained them. Initially, there was a provision for giving visas for six months which had to be renewed and failure to do so mean hefty sums of fine. Under the given circumstances, Afghan refugees in Delhi prefer not to return to their homeland and live a life in transit.

For details see:-Saini, G.“Afghan Refugees in India refuse to return fearing violence” 22 December 2013; Accessed on 13 February 2014.

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