Leave No One Behind

Through the twentieth cen­tury there has been a sig­nificant growth in the fre­quency of armed conflicts across the globe. These conflicts have not only led to widespread death but extensive displacement, fear and economic devastation. The most affected of these conflicts are those who get dislocated from their native places under unbearable vio­lent conditions.

A decade ago, some 37.5 million people were displaced worldwide. By the end of 2015, this number had reached 65.3 million, including ap­proximately 21.3 million refugees and 40.8 million internally displaced per­sons (IDPs). Keeping their increasing numbers in mind, UNHCR has made 2030 agenda “leave no one behind” by ensuring all the needs of displaced persons are taken into account and the agenda be implemented by all mem­ber states (India is one of the member states to UN).

UNHCR is encouraging and sup­porting UN member states to disag­gregate data under relevant SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) indi­cators according to migratory status, and in particular to ensure adequate disaggregation to reflect the protec­tion environment and well-being of refugees, the internally displaced, and stateless persons.

Though India is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Pro­tocol, but it is still bound by customary international law not to forcibly return any refugee to a place where they face a serious risk of persecution or threats to their life or freedom.

Second, Article 51 of the Indian Constitution, which talks about In­dia’s responsibilities to promote “in­ternational peace and security”, urges the state to “strengthen the interna­tional law and the treaties”.

Third, India has a long record of helping vulnerable popula­tions fleeing from neighbouring countries, including Sri Lankans, Afghans, Pakistan and Tibetans. More than 1.5 lac West Pakistani Refugees have been residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir for past six decades and they were also allowed to take part in parlia­mentary elections. Hence, Indian authorities should abide by India’s international legal obligations and not forcibly return any Rohingya to Burma without first fairly eval­uating their claims as refugees.

Though Indian government con­siders Rohingya refugees as a threat to national security, but there is little evidence in the public domain to show that the 40,000 Rohingya refugees in India constitute a terror threat. One of the prominent Prime Ministers of India was assassinated by the refu­gees from Sri Lanka but they are still living in India. Rohingyas should not be used as political tool. The govern­ment should look from humanitarian perspective rather than looking from a particular community or ethnicity. Unless the basic needs and rights of those affected by forced displacement are addressed, the central ambition of the 2030 Agenda to ‘leave no one be­hind’ cannot hope to be realized.

Tajamul Maqbool

Doctoral student, Centre for Studies in Society and Development

Central University of Gujarat,

Gandhinagar- 382029

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