By Nadim Ahmad, The Milli Gazette
Published Online: May 05, 2012
Print Issue: 1-15 May 2012
New Delhi: Over a thousand Muslim asylum-seekers from Arakan province of Myanmar are camping since mid-April on footpaths near the office of the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi. They are on the verge of starvation due to the apathy of UNHCR towards their plight. They are living on the food offered to them by the local Muslims from across the road and are deprived of basic amenities and medical facilities.
Mamoon Rafeeq, 45, originally a resident of Mangdaw district of Arakan region, said that the UNHCR officials are discriminating against them because they are Muslims. Mamoon added that “Non-Muslim asylum-seekers from Myanmar get their refugee status card within months or even days but we are being kept waiting for years. Instead of proper refugee cards, we are being issued cards which say that we are ‘asylum seekers’ and even this card is issued without our father’s name and address. These issues have not been solved despite many meetings with the UNHCR officials.” He further said that the Arakan Muslims are seeking refugee status since 1982 when they started migrating into India. Mamoon rued that the UNHCR cards which were given to them were of no use as they could not seek admission into any school for their children or get employment for themselves while in India. Mamoon told MG that at present around 10 to 15 thousand Arakani Muslims are living in different parts of India. He said that some of our people are incarcerated in Andaman jail also.