The Australian embassy in India has resumed interviews of Chin refugees in the country in the wake of a recent announcement by the UN refugee agency UNHCR that they still need the protection of the international community.
The move comes months after the UNHCR decided in late 2018 that the refugees no longer needed international protection.
The Australian embassy suspended its resettlement program for the refugees in line with that decision.
“After the UNHCR decided to stop protection for Chin refugees, the Australian embassy also stopped interviewing,” said Salai Cung Dawt, head of the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) office in New Delhi.
“Now, two weeks after the UNHCR reversed its earlier decision, the embassy has resumed interviews,” he told Khonumthung News.
So far, more than 30 Chin refugee families have been interviewed as a first step toward third-country resettlement.
“They are interviewing refugees with private sponsors in Australia. About 30 families—more than 100 people—have been interviewed so far,” said Salai Cung Dawt.
“After the interview, the person has a 99 percent chance of going to the third country. First, however, they must produce a police clearance certificate from the Indian police and a certificate from a hospital showing that they’ve had a medical checkup. Once these two documents are authenticated by the embassy, they are sure to get a visa,” he said.
If successful, the refugees will receive a visa to travel to Australia within three months, he added. More than 1,000 Chin refugees have been issued with new UN refugee cards in recent weeks following the UNHCR’s decision to extend international protection.