New Delhi, Nov 03: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said it treats Kashmiri Pandit migrants as 'Internally Displaced Persons', a status the community has been demanding for long, but made it clear that the world body has no role to play in their case.
"The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has no role with Internally Displaced Persons in India," the world body said in response to a memorandum submitted by a Kashmiri Pandit group 'Roots in Kashmir' (RIK).
In the memorandum, submitted during the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon last Friday, the Kashmiri group appealed that the world body take cognisance of the plight of Pandits who had to leave their homes in the valley.
The RIK said that even 19 years after the mass exodus, over 50,000 of "Kashmiri Pandit refugees are living in pathetic conditions in uninhabitable refugee camps" and that the successive Central and state governments had failed in protecting their rights.
In response, the UNHCR said its mandate is to work for refugees and "in some countries, on invitation by sovereign governments, with internally displaced populations".
Making a distinction between internally displaced persons and refugees, it said it depends on whether the people have crossed an international border.
"They (Kashmiri Pandits) may have left Kashmir for reasons very similar to those who become refugees, but since they have not crossed an international border, they continue to be protected by the same national government (in this case India) in a different part of the country (Jammu, Delhi, Mumbai, etc)," it said.
"They have not lost the protection of the national government," the UNHCR said, adding the world body steps in when people lose the protection of their national governments, by crossing an international border.
Bureau Report (PTI)
Daily Excelsior - http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/web1/08nov04/news1.htm#4