Afghan refugees protest before UNHCR office in Delhi for security, resettlement
- Seeking assurances of security from the Indian government and the global body, a member of the Afghan community said the refugees did not have any access to basic facilities like education and jobs
Refugees from Afghanistan staged a protest before the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi on Monday, presenting a list of demands, including refugee cards, resettlement options in third world countries, and assurance of security from the global body and the Indian government.
Seeking assurances of security from the Indian government and the global body, a member of the Afghan community said the refugees did not have any access to basic facilities like education and jobs and they . "We are gathered here for three of our demands first, refugee cards to apply for long-term visa (LTV) in India. Second, a resettlement option for which we need a supporting letter from the UNHRC so that we can move to another country. Third, security from the Indian government and UNHRC. We do not have any facilities like education and jobs," said Ahmad Zhia Ghani, head of the community in India.
A large number of desperate Afghan citizens are coming to India following the takeover of the war-torn country by the Taliban. On August 17, the Ministry of External Affairs said India will issue emergency e-visas to Afghan nationals who want to come to the country in view of the prevailing crisis in their country. All Afghans, irrespective of their religion, can apply for the 'e-Emergency X-Misc Visa' online and the applications will be processed in New Delhi. The visas would initially be valid for six months, officials said.
While the UNHCR office in New Delhi grants refugee status to Afghans and citizens from other strife-torn nations and issues identification cards. However, as India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee convention of 195, Afghans or any group not recognised by the Ministry of home affairs (MHA) would not be able to enjoy the rights given in countries like the UK or US. Those who are recognised as refugees by UNHCR are issued an identity card, but these are not widely recognised by authorities. The UNHCR also has a resettlement programme which involves providing permanent residence in another country.
As of 2019, Afghans accounted for around a third of the nearly 40,000 refugees registered in India, according to the UN refugee agency, but these figures do not cover those who are not registered with the UN. The families of Afghan peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah’s families and former President Hamid Karzai live in India. Karzai himself had spent years of his student life in India. Last year, the Indian mission in Kabul had facilitated the return of about 383 members of the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, told Hindustan Times earlier this month.