UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is concerned about India's plans to deport Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, his spokesperson has said, underlining that refugees should not be returned to countries where they fear persecution once they are registered.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had told parliament last week that the central government had directed state authorities to identify and deport illegal immigrants, including Rohingyas, who face persecution in the Buddhist- majority Myanmar.
"Obviously, we have our concerns about the treatment of refugees. Once refugees are registered, they are not to be returned back to countries where they fear persecution," Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here yesterday.
Haq was responding to a question on India's plans to deport Rohingyas from Myanmar regardless of whether they are registered as UN refugees or not.
Haq said UN principles of non-refoulement applies in this case. According the these principles, no nation shall expel or return a refugee in any manner to territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
When asked which agency would convey this message to India, Haq said the first point of contact will be through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Rijiju had said that according to available data, more than 14,000 Rohingyas, registered with the UNHCR, are presently staying in India.
"However, some inputs indicate that around 40,000 Rohingyas are staying in India illegally and the Rohingyas are largely located in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan," he had said.
The Home Ministry had said that infiltration of (Rohingyas) from the Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory, especially in recent years, besides being a burden on the limited resources of the country, also aggravates security challenges posed to India.