The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is greatly concerned for the safety and security of seven Myanmar nationals who were returned from India to Myanmar on Thursday.
The UNHCR understands that prior to their return the group of seven were moved from Silchar central jail in Assam, where they had been in detention since 2012, to Manipur State bordering Myanmar, the organization said in a statement on Friday.
On learning of their detention and the planned return, and based on credible reports that the seven men are Rohingya, UNHCR requested the Indian authorities to grant access to this group to assess their need for international refugee protection.
UNHCR regrets that the agency did not receive a response to this request and was unable to secure access for a lawyer from a state legal service, the statement said.
UNHCR continues to seek clarification from the authorities on the circumstances under which these individuals were returned to Myanmar, the statement said quoting UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.
The UN Refugee Agency is concerned that they did not have access to legal counsel, were not given the chance to access asylum processing and have their claims assessed in India, the statement said.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have fled from Myanmar over recent decades. In the latest refugee crisis, more than 720,000 Rohingya refugees found shelter in Bangladesh since 25 August 2017.
Current conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are not conducive for safe dignified and sustainable return of stateless Rohingya refugees.
According to the statement, at least 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers are registered with UNHCR in India, living across different locations.