United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is concerned over reports that Rohingya Muslim refugees, both legal and unregistered, are possibly facing deportation from India.
“Obviously, we have our concerns about the treatment of refugees,” Guterres’ Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told during a regular briefing at UN Headquarters in New York. “Once refugees are registered, they are not to be returned back to countries where they fear persecution.”
Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar, with many taking refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh since the early 1990s, and some of them then crossing over a porous border into Hindu-majority India. Myanmar denies citizenship to Rohingya and classified as illegal immigrants.
Guterres responded after India announced that it plans to deport an estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees living illegally in India.The government said that even those registered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees would be deported.
The spokesman said that the UNHCR office would take up the issue with the Indian government. He reminded India of UN’s position against deporting refugees, the Dawn reported.
Guterres, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before his appointment as UN chief, is a staunch supporter of the cause of refugees.
“You are aware of our principle of non-refoulement,” he said, referring to the doctrine in the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees.
“According to the principle, refugees cannot be returned to a place where their life or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,” he said.
Meanwhile,Amnesty International has said deporting and abandoning the Rohingya would be “unconscionable”.