Upliftment of the Burmese Refugee community by students from IIT Delhi

With Project Aarambh SIFE IIT Delhi is helping make a difference by playing a proactive role in helping the development and economic sustainability of a group of people so far neglected.

India being a neighboring country hosts a large and growing number of 100,000 Burmese refugees. Even with Burma attracting international attention and the President of the United States acknowledging the plight of the Burmese community settled in West Delhi, there are very few Delhites, let alone Indians who know of their existence. An over 8000 strong community continues to exist in the obscure margins of our lives without anyone taking much notice.

The Golden land of Burma has been always famous for its rich culture and heritage, but today its virtuousness is under attack. Burma has been entrenched in political and armed conflict between the repressive ruling military regime, political opponents, and ethnic groups - resulting in the displacement of over 3.5 million people. India being a neighboring country hosts a large and growing number of Burmese refugees. Here in New Delhi, a nearly 10,000 strong community continues to exist in the obscure margins of our lives without anyone taking much notice. Even with Burma attracting international attention and the President of the United States acknowledging the plight of the Burmese community settled in West Delhi, there are very few Delhites, let alone Indians who know of their existence.

This large number does not afford them any legal protection, leaving them vulnerable to harassment, discrimination, and deportation. India is not a signatory of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which is the cornerstone of UNHCR's work around the world. Hence the present situation is that the government takes no responsibility as such of these refuges and the onus is on UNHCR to provide for their sustenance. As a result, the Indian community is almost apathetic to the cause of these refuges be it matters of protection, health, education, administration, legal or general social factors. While protection and permanent solutions are long in coming for the Burmese community in Delhi, their wait is made more urgent by untenable living conditions, a lack of adequate and acceptable livelihoods, poor health, an inability for their children to receive an education, and the impossibility of integrating with the local community.

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