Ethnic Chin (mainly Christian) refugees scattered across Malaysia and India, have lost their refugee status and are faced with returning to Buddhist-majority Myanmar (Burma) where they risk discrimination and military attack.
The refugee status change is a result of a policy revision by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) who have stated that “the conditions that would normally produce refugees no longer exist” in Chin Province, Myanmar. The revision affects some 25,000 refugees in Malaysia and around 3,000 in India.
The thousands of Chin Christian refugees now face a terrible choice – take the risk of returning to a place of conflict and persecution, or remain as illegal immigrants facing a life of poverty or potential imprisonment.
The position of the Christian minority in Myanmar is perilous. Kachin Christians in the north of the country are currently facing ethnic cleansing and genocide at the hands of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army). In Chin state itself clashes between the army and insurgent groups continue and landmines are a constant hazard in certain regions. Christians in Myanmar are mostly members of non-Burman ethnic minorities.