Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Afghan refugees in India stage protest outside UNHCR offices

Taliban victims in India are struggling to obtain refugee status as the Taliban continues to fight in Afghanistan. On Monday, many Afghan families met to protest in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in New Delhi, The Hindu reported.

Pashtoon, a 36-year-old mother of five, found herself on the run to India with her children after the Taliban beheaded her husband five years ago. Like many others, Pashtoon has been seeking refugee status in India for several years. Pashtoon and 53 others who fled Afghanistan and have been denied refugee status, began an indefinite sit-in outside the UNHCR office on Monday.

“I have been refused a refugee status on the ground that I made a mistake during the interview. I am alone with five children and no money, I saw my husband being beheaded. Do you think my mind is equipped to answer questions with accuracy?” Pashtoon said.

Despite living in India for the past 14 years, Ali Ahmed has yet to be granted refugee status amidst decreased instability.

"Some of us have been living in India for the past 14 years, but the UNHCR refuses to grant us refugee status. We live in constant fear of being deported back in the absence of documents. We can neither work nor send our children to school. Seeking refugee status has been more daunting than facing death in Afghanistan," Ahmed said.

A UNHCR spokesperson denied allegations of being “insensitive to their plight,” citing the use and necessity of refugee status determination (RSD), the protocol by which refuges status is determined.

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