UNHCR Seeks Clarification from India Over Returns of Rohingya Refugees

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Rohingya refugees in India. — File photo

There are an estimated 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in India, living across different locations.

Web Report

UNITED NATIONS — The UN refugee agency has expressed regret over India’s decision to repatriate a group of Rohingya to Myanmar.

The agency says it has sought clarification from India on the circumstances under which the asylum seekers were sent back, voicing concern over the unconducive conditions for such returns.

The Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq said at the daily press briefing that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday that it “regrets India’s decision to repatriate a family of Rohingya asylum seekers to Myanmar, the second such return in three months.”

The UN agency said that a family of Rohingya asylum-seekers from Rakhine State, registered with UNHCR in India, was sent back to Myanmar on Thursday, January 3, after being detained in India’s Assam, where they had been serving a prison term since 2013 for illegal entry into India.

The agency said that despite repeated requests, UNHCR did not receive a response from the authorities in India regarding requests for access to individuals in detention to ascertain their circumstances and to assess the voluntariness of their decision to return. This is the second such incident since October 2018, when India returned seven Rohingya to Rakhine State in Myanmar, where conditions are not conducive for return.

UNHCR continues to request access and seek clarification on the circumstances under which the return has taken place. There are an estimated 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in India, living across different locations in the country.

India came under fire from the UN in October when it returned seven Rohingya to Rakhine state in Myanmar, which is being probed by the International Criminal Court amid allegation of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Rakhine.

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