Status of UNHCR recognized Burmese refugees in India; risk of forced repatriation [IND34202.E]

References to UNHCR-recognized Burmese refugees are scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. The only explicit reference was found in the United States Committee for Refugees (USCR) publication World Refugee Survey, 1999 (available in Regional Documentation Centres):

588 Burmese whom UNHCR recognized as refugees, and in some cases assisted, lived in Delhi during the year. The group included both former students who fled Burma after the Burmese authorities crushed the pro-democracy movement in 1988, and ethnic Chin who made the long and costly journey from Mizoram to Delhi to seek UNHCR protection.
UNHCR has said that the Chin in Mizoram might qualify as refugees, but India considers them illegal immigrants and does not permit UNHCR access to them (1999).

According to the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre, a New Delhi-based NGO, India repatriated large numbers of Burmese in 1994 (n.d.; USCR 1999). In 1997 Reuters Business Briefing reported on India's refusal to allow UNHCR access to the Northeastern region where an estimated 40,000 displaced Burmese reside (25 July 1997; USCR 1999).

In September 1998 the Burma Project Director of Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy organization, spoke before the House International Relations Committee, stating that there were at that time 110,000 Burmese refugees in India with 50,000 in camps and 60,000 non-registered (Federal News Service 28 Sept. 1998). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the Burma Project Director was unable to provide information regarding forced repatriations since 1998 but did state that she had heard anecdotal evidence to the effect that restrictions had been placed on the movements of some of the Burmese in India (26 Apr. 2000).

The UNHCR 2000 Global Appeal entry for Myanmar (Burma) does not contain any information regarding Burmese in India and speaks only of repatriation from Bangladesh (2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Federal News Service. 28 September 1998. "Prepared Testimony of Mary Pack, Burma Project Director, Refugees International, Before the House International Relations Committee, Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific." (NEXIS)

Reuters Business Briefing. 25 July 1997. Christopher Kremmer. "Burma: Refugees Flee Burmese Crackdown into India."

South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre (New Delhi). n.d. "Country Report on the Refugee Situation in India." [Accessed 13 Apr. 2000]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2000. 2000 Global Appeal. [Accessed 13 Apr. 2000]

United States Committee for Refugees (USCR). 1999. World Refugee Survey, 1999. [Accessed 28 Mar. 2000]