Author : Shivani Tiwari, Student at Renaissance Law College.
Some people leave their homes by choice while others are forced to leave their countries due to oppression and those are the people who are given the status of refugees. Refugees are amongst the most periled sections of the society as they have limited protection and are more prone to violation of their human rights. Due to such oppression and lack of protection in their homeland, it becomes difficult for them to repatriate. Although there are around 50 million people who have returned their homes since the end of World War II, there are an equivalent number of people whose lives are ripped out and are in the plight of retrieving their human rights.
United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 also known as Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “any person who is suffering from a fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is resistant to access himself to the protection of that country”.
Refugees are the outcomes of various persecutions such as human rights abuses, civil wars, internal strife, communal violence, forced relocation and natural disasters. Apart from Refugee Convention, a protocol i.e., Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, 606 U.N.T.S. 267 was also being enacted which came into force on 4th of October, 1967. The same was enacted due to the following mentioned reasons:
- The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees done at Geneva on 28th of July, 1951 only extends to the people who have turned out to be refugees after the incidents that took place before 1st of January, 1951.
- The convention was adopted and after that, there were several new refugee mishaps were arising so, the concern was that those refugees will be left unprotected.
- It is designed to cover all the refugees that fall within the ambit of the Convention and focuses on providing equal status to them irrespective of the dateline 1st of January, 1951. Although there are several conventions like the Refugee convention, Protocol relating to Refugees, UNHCR, and UDHR for the protection of the rights of the refugees still their life is in distress. This research paper will try to sketch out the rights granted to the refugees as well as their conditions across the globe.
According to the UNHCR report of 2018, there were around 70.8 million people who were being forcibly displaced from their home amongst which 25.9 million people were the refugees across worldwide. Besides this, there were nearly 111,000 refugees who were children with or without families. This huge figures itself portrays that a part of humanity is being tormented due to the lack of care and contravention of their human rights. These people are inflicted by natural catastrophe or through the political turmoil that has been going on in the country of their origin. Some countries are not yet stable to render service to these people. They are being deprived of just and humane treatment in the refugee camps and may sometimes have to settle in disease -prone areas. The sole concern of this paper is to unveil the extremity of these people who cannot even raise their voices against such violence.
The objectives of this research paper are as follows:
- To outline the data regarding the number of migrants who left their origin countries due to persecution.
- To draw out the rights those are granted for the security of refugees.
- To determine the condition and sufferings of refugees across various countries around the globe.
Human rights and refugees is a vibrant subject matter and there are a lot of articles and publications available on the same issue. International Justice Resource Centre ijrcenter.org states that the law regarding refugee and their rights are derived as result of World War II. Also, the Convention of 1951 leaves the discretion on the state parties to determine whether the individuals are a refugee or not. It also explains as to how the rights of refugees are overlooked. The condition of detention centers is terrible; they are overcrowded and there are no proper sanitation facilities for them. Study Guide: The Rights of Refugees (By the University of Minnesota) upholds that refugees are often mistaken as migrants who flee abroad for financial reasons or as persecuted groups who do not cross the international border and stays in their own country. A report on The Plight of Refugees around the World elucidates that according to Human Rights Watch the world held around 14.9 million refugees in the year 2001, amongst which 12 million were internally displaced persons. The report narrates that there were around 2 million people who flee from Sudan due to brutality in Darfur region, and the result of which was 200,000 have died. In Myanmar, around 500,000 people were compelled to be refugees due to exploitation of their human rights.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Through this paper, I want to recapitulate that though the refugees have possession over various rights yet they do not have enough access to these rights and their lives are at stake. They are also being treated brutally all over the world.
- Whether the rights provided to the refugees are enough for enhancing their security in the host country?
- Are the refugees going through the same crisis across all parts of the world?
- Regardless of the rights granted to the refugees, are the present legislations enough to protect and promote their interests?
BACKGROUND OF THE PREDICAMENT FACED BY REFUGEES
- Oppression faced by refugees: Refugees are impelled to leave their homes due to oppression caused to them in their own country. They are being dealt despicably at their native place and suffer from grounded fear of being victimized due to their race, religion, nationality, member of the particular social group and political opinion professed and practiced by them. Thus, in such angst, they migrate to another country in the quest of shelter and prevention of their lives. However, they suffer gross pain in the host country; confront various human rights abuses and breach of their rights.
- Rights of refugees: There are various rights that are granted to the refugees amongst which some of them are explained below:
- Right against refoulement: Refoulement refers to the process whereby a refugee can be asked to return to their country of origin. The state or the host country is interdicted from forcing the refugees to return to their own country. Article 33 of the convention relating to refugee`s states that no refugee shall be forced to return to the country where they suffered torture or ill – treatment and whereby their life was in threat.
- Right to seek asylum: Asylum is the shelter granted by the state and is maintained by its organs, to the persons who seek for it. According to international law, the right to seek asylum is not an obligation on the state. Sometimes, when there is a sudden mass inflow of people the refugees can be sent to other countries for shelter but they are not being assured for permanent asylum. So, in such cases, they are provided temporary asylum in other countries.
- Right to equality and non – discrimination: Refugees shall be treated equally and shall be provided equal protection against any kind of discrimination. They are the forlorn groups who have to survive through various hardships such as lack of documentation and proper identification dive them into lifetime misery. They are often being suspected as criminals and thus being punished. They suffer a lot due to lack of national legislations in the asylum country or due to uncertainty and ambiguity of the prevailing laws. Article 2 of ICCPR states that the refugees shall be treated similarly as the natives of the host country are treated. Thus, these rights prohibit discrimination against refugees and they shall not be deprived of them.
- Right to return: It happens that there are religious and cultural sentiments which are attached to the place where a person is born and same is the case of refugees. It shall be the responsibility of the host country to respond according to the needs of the refugees. If a refugee wants to return to their homeland then they shall be returned with complete safety and full protection of their life.
PRESENT SCENARIO OF REFUGEES ARPOUND THE WORLD
According to a report presented by India Today more than 67% of the refugees belonged to the following five countries:
- The Syrian Arab Republic,
- South Sudan,
The Syrian Arab Republic is one of the most affected countries since 2011. There were more than 465,000 Syrians who have been killed in the war and around 12 million people have been displaced till now. The present scenario of the pandemic is making the situation worst, particularly in countries like Idlib and Aleppo. People living in these areas lack resources and do not have access to clean drinking water. Most of the Syrians who were displaced generally live in abandon houses or with their extended families. Some of them even live in disease – prone areas due to lack of shelter.
Afghanistan is the second – largest country for the origin of refugees due to the perpetual conflict going on in Afghanistan since 1970. It started with the Soviet war in 1979 which displaced over 6 million people and continued till 1929. Followed by that, the incident of 9/11 took place in which the US started military action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. There are more than 2.7 million people who flee to Iran, Pakistan or Europe as a result of these mishaps. And around 2.5 million who are displaced and living in new settlements.
Somalia has been facing severe drought situation and other natural calamities because of which around 1million Somalis has shifted into the refugee camps in the Horn of Africa & Yemen. As of 2020, 1.2 million people are facing a food crisis due to the disruption of farmlands by locusts.
AN INSIGHT INTO THE REFUGEE SITUATION IN INDIA
Earlier there was no proper legislation about the rights of refugees. But, as of now, The Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was enforced to protect the rights of the refugees. Also, Article 5 to 11 of the Indian Constitution provides for the rights for acquiring citizenship. Currently, the major refugee issue that has been in the discussion is of the Rohingya refugee crisis. Rohingya`s are the Muslim community of 1.3 million people who earlier lived in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Later on, they were being attacked brutally and thus they shifted to Bangladesh. There were two official camps in Bangladesh which were overpopulated and giving rise to thirty new unregistered encampments. There are around 860,000 Rohingya`s that are being allocated in Bangladesh and 1.3 million of them are dependent on the host communities for assistance.
The refugees have been enduring heart wrenching circumstances since past years. The nations are blatantly shifting their focus at promoting national interests but they are showing minimal interests in ameliorating the living conditions in the refugee camps. As discussed above, the countries such as Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia etc. are the origins for the majority of the refugees. Refugees are perniciously devastated since ages and now it`s the time when the government should make stringent move towards preserving their interests. Thus, the paper concludes that the refugees should be given adequate humanitarian assistance and shall be guarded by the state.
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