More than 100 Chin refugees in India demonstrated in front of the New Delhi United Nations offices on Monday in protest of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) decision to begin interviews determining whether they need international protection.
On Tuesday, the option for Chin refugees in India to undergo these interviews begins. Those who opt not to participate must agree to give up their refugee status by the end of 2019, in accordance with the UNHCR decision to no longer grant protected status to those from Chin State.
The New Delhi-based Chin Human Rights Organization’s (CHRO) office in-charge Salai Cung Dawt said that it had long been planned to protest these interviews, which are seen as placing the community in an unfair position.
“Before [the interviews]start, we had to hold a demonstration expressing our disagreement with the UNHCR’s decision. It’s impossible to participate in these ‘notification interviews,’” he explained, adding that Chin refugees feel dissatisfied with the options presented to them by the UNHCR.
Monday’s protest began at 11 a.m. and lasted 30 minutes before UN officials met Chin community leaders to discuss their concerns. Chin representatives demanded that the scheduled interview process be postponed, but the UNHCR confirmed that interviews would begin on time.
Salai Cung Dawt said that they also delivered a statement to UN officials.
Of concern, he added, was that many members of the Chin community are awaiting resettlement to Australia and have already undergone interviews to determine their eligibility.
“We demanded that the UN officials not block the road to a third country,” Salai Cung Dawt told Khonumthung News. He said that the UN representatives that he spoke to agreed that they would recommend resettlement for refugees who have already been approved and would not disrupt the process.
Chin community representatives have asked that those refugees who do undergo interviews with the UNHCR to re-evaluate their status not be asked to give up their refugee registration cards, as is currently required in the procedure. UN officials will reportedly consult with their headquarters in Geneva on the matter.
There are an estimated 5,000 Chin refugees in India.