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Posted On : 8 Sep, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Hyderabad 
States can't send back refugees facing danger: UNHCR on Rohingyas
 As India plans to deport Rohingya Muslim immigrants, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) today said the principle of non-refoulement - or not sending back refugees to a place where they face danger - is binding on all states.

In an e-mail response to PTI's questions on the Rohingyas in India, the UN body said the principle is considered a part of customary international law and therefore is binding on all states, whether they have signed the Refugee Convention or not.

"In addition, India is party to major international human rights instruments, such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child," it said.

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had recently said the Rohingyas, whether they are registered under the UNHCR or not, are "illegal immigrants in India and hence they stand to be deported".

The Rohingyas Muslim minority in the Rakhine state of Myanmar have been fleeing to Bangladesh and India amid reports of alleged ethnic purging and persecution.

Over the past few months, they have fled in their thousand because of military action against militancy in the state and the ensuing violence and arson.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this week visited Myanmar where he held talks with the country's leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Asked if there was any change in India's stance vis-a-vis the Rohingyas after Modi's visit, it said, "UNHCR has not received any official communication from the government regarding any changes to its approach on refugees." 

It, however, said there were no reported instances of deportation of the UNHCR-registered Rohingyas from India.

Some 16,500 Rohingya from Myanmar are registered with the UNHCR in India. About 40,000 are said to be staying illegally.

The UN body also appreciated the protection given by India to "vulnerable" refugees and its "long and proud" history of solidarity with the people fleeing violence.

According to estimates, Hyderabad is home to about 3,600 Rohingyas, taking shelter here under a UNHCR programme.

"They are not willing to go back to Myanmar," a volunteer with an NGO working for them said requesting anonymity.

Sources in the Rohingya camp here say they are apprehensive about their future if they are deported and fear that they would be killed or subjected to torture back home.

"There are about 3,600 Rohingyas, who are UNHCR card holders. Most of them are illiterate. We have not seen any fresh arrivals after the recent incidents in Maynmar. Whoever lives in the camp (in old city area) is not willing to go back as they fear for their lives," one of them said.

"Lot of them are very worried about the situation in Myanmar. If India does not want them, where will they go? They fear that they would be killed if they go back to Myanmar," they added.
 
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