Myanmar Refugees in India: Statement to the UNHRC 47th session

In response to the ever-deepening crisis in Myanmar, Emirilda Thabah submitted an oral intervention (below) to the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the welfare of Myanmar refugees in India.

However, since the day the video was filmed, the crisis has only worsened. On Twitter, a simple rundown of tweets from people in Myanmar will indicate the cataclysmic state of the country, thanks to the latest COVID wave engulfing the country in addition to the brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military on protestors since the February coup.

Myanmar’s healthcare workers, who have been at the front of the many protests, have gone underground and now informally treat patients but lack adequate medical equipment to do so. In the junta’s eyes, this adds to the crimes that healthcare workers have allegedly committed, putting them at even greater risk. Visuals circulated on social media show the harrowing desperation for oxygen, equivalent if not worse than the second wave in India.

Despite all of this, the military and its foreign partners are yet to be deterred, and are far from concerned about the humanitarian emergency. Hopelessness and uncertainty tops the list when anyone thinks of the future of Myanmar now, yet we have nothing to offer but empathy.

What follows is an oral intervention on Myanmar delivered by Emirilda Thabah to the 47th session of the UN Human Rights Council, to Item 4 ID with SR on Myanmar.

Transcript:

Madame President, The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has said that the quick repatriation of refugees would likely conflict with the principles of a safe and sustainable return.

Actions in Myanmar have created a refugee exodus to the states of Mizoram and Manipur in the Republic of India. Communities in India who share similar cultural heritage with those in Myanmar have been welcoming during these difficult times; but disturbingly the Indian Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have been largely absent from the field.

Skill building activities have been undertaken by India’s charitable sector to help these Myanmar refugees earn a living, but many of them have had to resort to menial jobs as domestic servants. The deadly second wave of coronavirus in India puts them at risk with little prospect of getting vaccinated. Many now seek shelter in the forests, a particularly dire situation for pregnant women.

The Next Century Foundation calls upon the United Nations to negotiate with the Myanmar military to stop this brutal crackdown and to seek the cooperation of India such that aid can be more quickly delivered in border areas.

The Special Rapporteur should mount a fact-finding mission to determine the number of Myanmar refugees who have crossed to India and help plan for the refugees’ future.

If resettlement in India becomes an option, India should take account of the ethnic diversity of the Indian states concerned as resettlement will undoubtedly have ramifications for the demography of those states.

We urge both the UN and the Indian Government to take a more active role in protecting these refugees. Thank you.

Image credit: The featured image is free to use from user Ninjastrikers on Wikimedia Commons.

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