Afghan nationals living in India demand refugee status


#AfghansDemandingRefugeeStatusInIndia

Islamabad, August 25 (KMS): Afghan nationals living in India have demanded of the Indian government to grant them the status of refugees.

A report released by Kashmir Media Service, today, said that hundreds of Afghans living in India took to the streets recently to ramp up the demand for refugee status. They rallied outside the UN refugee agency’s office in New Delhi, chanting slogans and demanding security, especially for Afghan children and women.

“We were victims of war, and now we are the victims of an unclear future,” read one poster.

Most of the Afghans protesting outside the UN office said they fled to India more than 10 years ago but are still waiting to be recognized as refugees. Many get trapped within a complex bureaucratic process to register as refugees in India, and struggle to live a dignified life, they said.

India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. As per the UN refugee agency, till 2019, Afghans accounted for about a third of the nearly 40,000 refugees registered in India but this figure excludes those not registered with the UN.

Ahmad Zia Ghani, 48, an Afghan refugee who came to India 10 years ago, said not being recognized as a refugee has prevented access to even “basic facilities,” making his life exceedingly difficult.

Calls for formal recognition of Afghan nationals as refugees in India have intensified in recent days, as hopes for a return home held by thousands of Afghan refugees were dashed following the uncertain situation caused by the fall of Kabul and the transition taking place after the Taliban takeover.

The KMS report said that many Afghanis despite being in India for more than 10 years are still not recognized as refugees. “Afghans have been lured in by India for better opportunities but they are living in bad conditions. They struggle to live a dignified life even though spending over a decade in India. Denying refugee status to Afghans has made life exceedingly difficult for them in India,” it said.

Miserable living condition of Afghan people in India is an eye-opener for Afghanis who aspire to go to India. “BJP-ruled India is providing Indian citizenship to only non-Muslim migrants from neighboring Muslim countries. Muslims are not welcome in Modi’s India,” it added.