DR Congo forces kill at least 36 Burundi refugees

At least 36 Burundian refugees were killed and 117 wounded in clashes with Congolese security forces who allegedly fired indiscriminately at protesters on September 15 in Congo’s South Kivu province.

The clashes erupted in Kamanyola in Congo’s South Kivu province when Citing “credible reports” received by the peacekeeping mission, Maman Sidikou the U.N. envoy to Congo said that the Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers protested the expulsion of four of their countrymen from Congo.He added that he death of the Congolese army officer led to “the escalation of violence.”

The U.N. envoy called for a swift investigation and urged Congo’s security forces to use force as a last resort.

Congo’s government says it is opening an investigation to establish the facts and true identity of the “supposed refugees,” spokesman Lambert Mende said.

Roughly 44,000 refugees from Burundi are sheltering in Congo. Many fled political violence at home in 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza successfully pursued a disputed third term amid deadly protests.

The Congolese government, the U.N refugee agency and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo “have deployed teams on site to shed light on everything that happened,” said the coordinator of the U.N. Communications Group in Congo, Florence Marchal.

Sources: Al Jazeera, ABC News, The Independent Uganda

Center grants citizenship to Chakma-Hajong refugees

On Wednesday, India agreed to grant citizenship to approximately one lakh Chakma-Hajong refugees including Hindus and Buddhists that have been staying in Arunachal Pradesh for half a century, and who had fled from Bangladesh in the 1960’s fearing ethnic cleansing and religious persecution in the Chittagong Hill region of Bangladesh.

This decision was arrived upon in a meeting headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and was presided over by the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

“The Chakmas have settled in Arunachal Pradesh since 1964. But the rights of the Scheduled Castes and indigenous tribes [in the state] will not be diluted.” An unidentified home ministry official said that though the Chakmas and Hajongs would be granted citizenship, they would not have any right to land ownership in the state as reported in Scroll.in

Earlier in 2015, the Supreme Court had requested the Centre to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. However, several organizations and civil society groups in Arunachal Pradesh were starkly against the move. In their opinion, it would change the demographic dimensions of the state and affect the minority status of the tribal population.

Sources: The Wire, Economic Times

Sri Lanka opens door for its people’s return

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Rinal Wickremesesinghesaid that it is now safe for the Sri Lankan asylum seekers stranded on Pacific islands to return home without the fear of being prosecuted during his visit to Australia on Wednesday.

The PM along with his Australian counterpart Malcom Turnbull initiated talks on bilateral cooperation to check people smuggling. The primary reason of concern is that Sri Lankans, Afghans and Iranians constitute a large part of the refugee population of 2000 in the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia pays the countries to house them. No Sri Lankan asylum seeker has reached Australia by boat since 2013.

The comment from the Wickremesinghe came in the light of the Australian government’s decision to cease funds to house the asylum seekers any further. Although the United States has agreed to take in 1250 refugees, President Donald Trump said that they would undergo “extreme vetting”.

Officials from the U.S. State Department’s Resettlement Support Center began the interviews in the camps of Nauru and Manus last week.

The PM said that although the Sri Lankan asylum seekers had broken the Sri Lankan law by fleeing to Australia, they had nothing to fear back at home. “They are welcome to return to Sri Lanka and we won’t prosecute them,” Wickremesinghe told reporters in Australia’s capital Canberra, reported Reuters. “Come back” He also added, “It is quite safe in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka has been attempting to reconcile its population since a bloody 26-year civil war ended in 2009.

 

Sources: Reuters, New Indian Express,