Plea in Delhi HC seeks removal of Afghan refugees, asylum seekers camping outside UNHCR office

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], September 1 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday expressed concern over a large gathering of Afghan nationals in the temporary structures outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Vasant Vihar here.

The Bench of Justice Rekha Palli issued notice to the Centre, Delhi Government, Delhi Police, and civic body in the matter.

The plea moved by the Vasant Vihar Welfare Association has sought the removal of the foreign nationals who are refugees or asylum seekers from dwelling in temporary structures outside the office of the UNHCR and settling them in appropriate dwellings or camps.

The refugees or asylum seekers have started gathering, squatting, dwelling in the temporary structures outside the office of the UNHCR in the Vasant Vihar area including lanes and parks adjoining it.

The High Court also observed that it could act as a super spreader of coronavirus as there is a lack of adherence to COVID-19 appropriate norms. It also noted that the large numbers of Afgan people are gathered next to each other without even wearing masks.

The petitioners, Association, and one Bhaskar Chatterjee through plea also seeking to direct respondents to issue appropriate action to deal with the nuisance being faced by the residents of Vasant Vihar after gathering and squatting of a number of foreign nationals in the area in utter violation of COVID-19 protocols.

The petitioner also sought the direction to the Ministry of External Affairs to frame an appropriate policy for ensuring that such nuisance to the local residents does not occur on the account of foreign missions/ diplomacies being in the vicinity of residential localities. Many foreign nationals, mainly from Afghanistan, had started assembling and squatting in B-Block Vasant Vihar, around the office of UNHCR, common parks, and areas.

"The area has turned into a protest site where people from all age groups including children are congregating. It is important to mention that putting children in a situation especially where the third wave of COVID-19 is imminent and is predicted to affect children more severely is extremely disastrous. Further, in absence of any arrangement by the Respondents to settle these foreign nationals, they are dwelling on the lanes and park of Petitioners' vicinity while congregating in large numbers, thus, posing a high health risk to the residents," the plea stated.

"Due to the desperation of the situation faced by the asylum seekers and refugees, the Petitioners apprehends that if no respite is provided by the Respondents to the foreign nationals and the number of such persons keeps increasing, the same could be a recipe of disaster in terms of public order as there is a possibility of the protest becoming violent and the pent-up anger of the foreign nationals being unleashed on the locality while treating the public and private property along with the unsuspecting residents," it said. (ANI)

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