A slogan of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) goes: “We believe one family torn apart by war is too many”. Abdul Aziz, an Afghan living in Delhi since 2006, identifies with the slogan.
Aziz lost his parents back in Afghanistan. Later, during the Taliban regime, his brother and a sister migrated to Germany and he, along with his wife and four sons, migrated to India.
On Thursday, World Refugee Day, Aziz was one of the scores of Afghans and Myanmarese who demonstrated in front of the UNHCR office at Vasant Vihar.
There are about 24,000 refugees and asylum seekers registered with the UNHCR in India, a majority of whom stay in Delhi.
As per the UNHCR India website, despite the lack of a refugee-specific location, the government of India currently hosts more than 2,00,000 Tibetans and Sri Lankan refugees.
For all Afghan refugees, the concerns include not just financial sustenance but also educational needs of children.
“As part of the UN arrangement, our children are sent to government schools, where they learn in Hindi medium. When we need to go back or shift to a different country, this will become an impediment,” Aziz said.
The Afghans have demanded a dedicated school for their children or if that is not possible, the UN should re-locate them to a third country.
Ipshita Sengupta from UNHCR, India, said they will organise an event with refugees on Saturday in Don Bosco School at Alaknanda.
As per the UNHCR Global Appeal 2013 update, the organisation’s budget for 2013 for India is about USD 1,30,06,613.