Protesting Chin Leaders Frustrated by UNHCR’s Silence

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Despite days of protests outside the New Delhi office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Chin leaders say that they yet to receive a response from the agency regarding concerns about the community’s refugee status.

Chin refugees demonstrated in front of the UNHCR office from January 16-18 last week, with more than 400 people participating on the final day of demonstrations. They are now debating whether to continue the protest this week.

“We demonstrated for three consecutive days. We don’t know whether it was successful, because we haven’t gotten updated information,” Chin Refugee Committee chairperson Remmawi told Khonumthung News.

The protesters were demanding a change to the UNHCR’s 2018 decision on Chin refugee affairs to no longer grant refugee status or resettlement rights to those from Chin State, declaring the area to no longer be an active conflict zone.

Chin organizations based in New Delhi released a statement last week asking the UN to extend the expiration date of refugee registration cards for members of the Chin community if they have undergone an interview with officials. Currently the cards can only be extended through a second such interview.

The organizations also urged the UNHCR to publicly state that Chin refugees still need protection from the international community.

“As of now, we haven’t gotten good news,” Remmawi said, adding that the Chin community’s statement had been given to a UNHCR official. “They haven’t replied to us. We have to wait, standing in front of the UNHCR office.”

Chin Human Rights Organization’s office in-charge Salai Cung Dawt said that they planned to continue demonstrations until they receive a response from the UN. “We cannot say whether our demonstration is effective or not, because we have had to hold a silent demonstration, not like the demonstrations we held in the past,” he explained, regarding the legal restrictions the protesters were under.

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