Millennium Post

Why inhuman to Myanmar refugees?

The case of Myanmar refugees who have landed on the dusty, hot shores of Delhi is an important issue, which the government must address sooner than later. First, the way the refugees were packed out of Vasant Kunj and forced to vacate Delhi was inhuman. As per the reports, the police were merciless and the refugees could put up hardly any resistance. The fact that the eviction happened on the day when a 10-member Myanmar delegation came to meet UNHCR officials in Delhi makes it all the more bizarre. Most of the 100-odd families have now been dispersed and many of the children are yet to be returned to their parents. A report in this paper said yesterday that a non-government organisation has found them a piece of land that they own at Kalindi Kunj and hence the refugees are safe for the moment from eviction. But that is only half the problem. Because there are issues like food, sanitation, medicine and potable water which, it is likely that an NGO may not be able to provide for long. And nor are they supposed to.

Asylum seekers globally are a humanitarian and complex political issue and should be addressed, either way, directly by the government, because it is only the government that can take a call and deal with this one. Also, it will have the resources to see that the refugees, as long as there is no permanent solution to their status, are looked after with the basic amenities.

But the Delhi or Union government refuses to do either. The Union government, specially, has taken exactly that route which lately it has taken for any important decision, which is silence! And that is where it is soon to receive flak from all quarters because of mixing up asylum seekers with street children. The former is a State problem and like the latter cannot be entrusted with an NGO, however charitable its intentions are.

Home Minister P Chidambaram has indicated that the refugees may be sent back but whatever is the solution to their case, it should come in a humane and timely manner. Otherwise, soon the asylum issue will soon turn into a political football, which the politicians will play around with. Also with Aung San Suu Kyi finding rehabilitation in the Myanmar political landscape after years and India being an old friend  of hers, India should deal with the issue with required political acumen and sensitivity.
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