Minutes of Meeting on 14th May, 2010
Posted by amthor on May 27, 2010
Dear Mr. Ro Mawi,
Thank you very much for the very useful meeting we had with you and some other members of the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC) on 14 May 2010. Following is a summary of the issues discussed:
1. Increase in security incidents: UNHCR is grateful for CRC’s reports on the increasing frequency of such incidents against refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar. UNHCR appreciates CRC’s commitment to the community including its visits to police stations and follow-up on cases. UNHCR has been engaged for a long time in sensitizing police in localities where refugees and asylum-seekers live as well as at a higher level and in ensuring appropriate responses to reported cases. UNHCR will continue its activities and wherever possible will step them up. It should be clear though that UNHCR does not have the authority to ensure the arrest of perpetrators.
UNHCR would like to encourage CRC to raise awareness among the community to adopt preventive measures in order to minimize the risk of assault or attack. For example, children should not be left
unaccompanied and women should always travel in groups and avoid crossing parks or other isolated and dangerous areas on their own.
UNHCR has taken note of some serious gaps in the handling of these cases by UNHCR and its partners. UNHCR is currently working towards strengthening the current response mechanisms to ensure better
protection of refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR would like CRC to alert concerned UNHCR staff whenever necessary to ensure urgent action.
At the same time, UNHCR would also like to emphasize the victims’ right to privacy. Information on the victim and details of the cases must be discussed only with those who are directly concerned and the
professionals who can assist the victims. UNHCR expects CRC to keep this in mind when dealing with such cases and also share these concerns with the community in general.
2. Delay in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) interviews: While there have been major improvements in the registration process, UNHCR is aware of the long delays in RSD interviews because of the increasing numbers of asylum-seekers and is making all possible efforts to address this problem.
UNHCR does not have the capacity to respond positively to the hundreds of requests for preponement of RSD interviews sent by asylum seekers and also by CRC on a weekly basis. Some of the CRC requests have been referred to the Women’s Protection Clinic (WPC) and necessary action has been taken while some others have been referred to the RSD Officer for consideration.
UNHCR requests both asylum seekers and CRC to exercise restraint when requesting preponements as UNHCR can only accept those cases most in need of urgent RSD.
3. Delay in the payment of Subsistence Allowances: UNHCR is very much concerned about the delays in the payment of Subsistence Allowances and medical reimbursements. UNHCR is already in discussions with YMCA to address this problem and hopefully the process will be expedited in the near future.
With regard to CRC’s complaints against YMCA management and staff, UNHCR is looking closely into the various issues and is presently working with YMCA to simplify systems and make them friendlier and more responsive to refugee needs. UNHCR will also take steps to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers are treated with respect by all its partners.
4. Education: Since, unlike many other countries, the Government of India allows children of refugees and asylum seekers to attend government schools, UNHCR expects all school-age children to attend
these schools and cannot consider providing support for private education. UNHCR/YMCA will assist in the admission process and will provide tuition and bridge classes whenever necessary.
UNHCR supports parallel schools when refugee children are not allowed to attend government schools. While it may be true that refugee children face discrimination at school, this is not limited to government establishments. The only way to fight discrimination is through education and increased interaction with the local populations. Given that most refugees and asylum seekers are likely to remain in India for a long time, they have a duty to send their children to school. Government schools have qualified teachers, which are often not the case in private schools, and they will provide proper education to the children.
5. Healthcare: UNHCR is aware of the health problems the community faces and is working with YMCA towards restructuring and improving the healthcare support system. UNHCR has noted with concern CRC’s complaints regarding the issue of expired medicines by YMCA and will look into the matter. UNHCR shall also discuss with YMCA the ambulance services, including the possibility of expanding its availability from three to five days a week.
6. Private/family sponsorship for resettlement: UNHCR clarified that it does not have any role to play in referring/processing resettlement applications which are sponsored by families already resettled to a
third country. In such cases, applicants must apply individually to the concerned Embassy. However, UNHCR can help with obtaining necessary documentation, once the concerned refugee has been accepted for resettlement.
I hope that this summary reflects faithfully our discussion. Let me assure you that UNHCR is committed to the protection and wellbeing of the refugee/asylum-seeker community and greatly values CRC’s efforts in the same direction.
I look forward to more such meetings in the future and hope that more members from the CRC, including women representatives, participate in the same.
Montserrat Feixas Vihe
Chief of Mission for India and the Maldives
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.