Compelling news from the refugee and migrant sector
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Human rights problematic in the West too

6 March 20190 comments

It’s not just in the ‘usual suspect’ countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where there are concerns about human rights abuses.

Several recent developments suggest there is cause for concern about the treatment of vulnerable people in western democracies and other relatively stable countries.


In June, the Malaysian Government announced that 40,000 Chin refugees living in the country will no longer be considered as such and must return home by 2020.

And the UNHCR is withdrawing its protection after declaring that recent developments mean Myanmar is safe for the Chin to return.

This is despite Chin groups saying they would be vulnerable to persecution and the problems that will inevitably occur when they go back.

Alliance of Chin Refugees spokesperson James Thang Bik says that so far, there are no promises from the Myanmar government regarding identity cards.

“But the Chin people in Myanmar can’t live there without them,.

“A lot of the refugees grew up in Malaysia. Some were even born here, so they don’t remember anywhere else. Every month, about 200 more youngsters arrive, usually after having walked to Malaysia through the jungles.

The Chin people are mostly Christian, converted by missionaries in the 19th and 20th century. Many of them fled Myanmar because of the persecution and harassment they faced there.


In Germany, more than 400 Syrian refugees have been assisted to return home becauee they have been able to bring family members to Germany.

The German government denies Syrian nationals are being encouraged to return voluntarily but financial support is given nonetheless.

US magazine Foreign Policy recently reported on the persecution of Syrian returnees.

In one case, a Palestinian refugee from Syria who was living in Germany returned to Syria with financial support after his attempts to reunite with his fiance had failed. The man was summoned by secret service agents upon his arrival in Damascus and has not been seen since, the report said.

In another case, a Palestinian on his way to reunite with his wife in Syria disappeared at the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Family reunification is only possible in Germany for refugee couples who were married before flight.

The UN’s migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) does not support voluntary return to Syria. It says civilians in Syria continue to face serious threats.

Mexico and the US 

Mexico recently accepted 112 Central American migrants from the United States, including 25 children.

This represents a policy reversal by Mexico and came as the US launched the so-called “remain in Mexico” program negotiated with Mexico to make some asylum applicants wait in Mexico during the months and even years that it can take to resolve such cases.


The Indian government has recently come under fire over the large numbers of Rohingya people arrested or forced to return to Myanmar.

At least 1,300 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh from India since the start of the year as fears of deportation to Myanmar spark an exodus.

New Dehli has been forcing Rohingya to return to Myanmar despite the members of the persecuted minority facing threats to their safety and with the United Nations and rights groups accusing India of disregarding international law.

India, which is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, arrested 230 Rohingya in 2018 – the highest number in years – as Hindu nationalists called for the Rohingya to be deported en masse.

Ravi Nair, of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre told media that for the past year, the government of India has been making life difficult for the Rohingya refugees in India.

He said that the Rohingya in India are subjected to “regular visits by local intelligence officials, this includes harassment about their paperwork.

“A large number of Rohingya, our own data shows over 200, from Jammu to Tripura, Assam and West Bengal states have been arrested and imprisoned,” he said.

The round-ups in India and fear of deportation to Myanmar have driven even more of the stateless Rohingya into Bangladesh, where a million already live in sprawling refugee camps in the country’s southeast.

United Kingdom

New data has emerged in the UK revealing the extent to which high numbers of asylum seekers are being housed in some of the country’s most deprived areas.

Media reports say there are currently forty thousand asylum seekers housed under the government’s dispersal scheme across much of the country, but the reality is that the majority are placed in some of the poorest parts – often in towns in the country’s midlands and north.

An agreement that the number of asylum seekers in a local authority doesn’t exceed 1 in 200 of the overall population is meant to ensure a fair spread. But the figures published in the UK media paint a different picture.



Laurie Nowell 

AMES Australia Senior Journalist