Seeking Refuge, Denied Rights – Are Refugee Immigrants Truly Protected?


Millions of refugees have benefited from international assistance and refugee rights throughout history, and many of them owe their very lives to the system of protection that exists now. After World War II, nations from all over the world decided to grant refugees their basic rights. What rights are provided by the 1951 treaty relating to the status of refugees since these rights were created by that agreement? “One of its most essential tenets is the non-refoulment principle, which states that persons cannot be returned to their place of origin if doing so would put them in danger from violence or persecution”. After crossing a border, refugees have the right to live in safety in another nation; this right extends beyond basic physical security. Refugees should be afforded at least the same basic rights and assistance as any other foreign national residing legally; these rights include the freedom of speech, the freedom of movement, and the freedom from torture and other cruel or inhumane treatment.

The Refugee Convention also guarantees refugees social and economic rights in the host nation, including the right to work, the right to access education, the ability to provide for one’s family and one’s own needs, as well as the right to health care. If the environment in their nation is once again secure, some will be able to go back. Those who are unable to leave their current homes might try to reintegrate into their host countries, where they can learn the language, attend school, find employment, and in some cases, depending on their circumstances, even become citizens. Resettlement is the process by which some refugees are moved from their first nation of asylum to another. UNHCR and the country accepting refugees go through an extremely strict selection process.

Who is a Refugee?

Acquiring thorough legal terminology is essential to comprehending the issues that face refugees and those working to safeguard them. These criteria establish who is entitled to the protections, both legal and physical, that national and international organizations have created to deal with those who have been forcibly forced across borders by violence and persecution. They are also vital to efforts to compile and evaluate statistics on refugees.

The 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees define a refugee as a person who is outside the country of his nationality due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, and is unable or — unwilling to avail himself of the protections of that country.

Refugee Problems related to their basic Human Rights

Human Rights Law

Refugees who end up in various camps or nations may experience various issues in their daily lives. They endure difficult living conditions. They live in tents, have few resources, and have little access to food, water, and clothing. “They struggle with several issues while living without sufficient shelter. Those who do not enter refugee camps and enter nations frequently experience unforeseen difficulties, as well as cultural and linguistic issues.” The children of refugees are the ones who struggle with issues the most. They struggle mightily to stay in school, fail to grasp concepts and exhibit poor self-control.

Many refugees work as labourers in the country where they are staying, where recruiters take advantage of them. Since they feel insecure in their home nation, they go to a new location where they too feel uneasy and frightened. Refugees are handled under distinct sets of laws in different countries, some award citizenship more quickly than others. The benefits of being a refugee vary depending on the nation. They experience psychological harm, discrimination, and financial hardship.

Insufficient Medical and Legal Support

Border crossers typically do not have access to legal or medical assistance while they are being detained. Some of them are unable to afford legal representation to avoid additional arrests.

Children and Women Refugees are at risk

It seems that women and children are more likely to encounter gender-based violence due to rising housing costs, in part because they live in a home with strangers. For their security, child labour among refugees and asylum seekers is a major concern and is frequent.

Threat of Detention

Unauthorized refugees may be imprisoned as soon as they cross an international border into India. They can be thought to be a spy or infiltrator due to any contradicting statements they may have made to the authorities. This will worsen if the refugee does not have the standard “travel documentation.” In these circumstances, it would be quite legal for the security agency to lodge a complaint in accordance with the IPC, Foreigners’ Act, etc., and even to hold the refugee before delivering him or her to a court with local jurisdiction.

Inability to take part in Government Initiatives

Despite not being able to work legally, they are able to do so in the unregulated labour market. They are also more vulnerable to natural disasters and economic shocks because they do not have access to many social security systems that are available to Indian citizens.


There are several health issues that refugees must deal with. Healthcare facilities are safer for refugees than jail facilities. Yet, especially for individuals with little flexibility, they are nonetheless somewhat constrained places for healthcare and aid. We will talk about the health problems that refugees face, how they use health services, and what can be done to make access to them better in this post. Refugees’ pre-migration and post-migration experiences inform their journey toward optimal healthcare in a dynamic process. As a result, it is crucial to recognise and comprehend the obstacles that refugees encounter and how they might get through them by building a solid rapport with the healthcare system.

We will examine some of the crucial elements that influence the health experience of refugees using the Migrant Sensitive Access Model, as well as how the healthcare system may enhance it. A variety of obstacles, including physical, cultural, and financial restrictions, must be overcome in order to provide health care for urban refugees. The public health systems in receiving nations are frequently underfunded and of poor quality. Additionally, refugees have worse financial circumstances than urban residents. Accessing private healthcare facilities can be challenging as a result.

Discrimination is a significant contributor to poor health outcomes among refugees. According to recent studies, discrimination during the relocation process may cause refugees to forgo healthcare services. It can also foster mistrust and result in care that is not appropriate. To enhance the health of refugees in such a situation, it is imperative to acquire the knowledge and tools required. Another typical issue for refugees is a lack of employment options. Several important sectors have stopped hiring refugees, and many people have lost their employment. Even though many people would prefer to work, they may suffer negative effects on their mental health due to a lack of opportunities. Anxiety and insomnia are common complaints made by refugees.


The need for expanding refugee students’ access to education has never been greater given that the number of refugees has doubled over the past ten years to reach an estimated 25.9 million. The number of children under the age of 18 in refugee populations has only risen. “Young refugees appear to be on the rise and need to be taken care of, with their percentage rising from 41% of refugees under the age of 18 in 2009 to 50–52% in recent years.” When they were compelled to leave their homes to seek asylum, many had their educational paths broken, jeopardising their futures.

While the younger generations in refugee camps frequently lack access to good infrastructure, we must never forget that their right to education remains a fundamental human right. People have “the right to an education,” according to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and children should have complete access to education. Furthermore, it is important for refugees to acquire the necessary information and skills to develop in life rather than falling into a cycle of poverty after losing everything back home.

Lack of access to electricity, the Internet, and digital gadgets severely limits one’s capacity to receive a high-quality education.


Refugee camps struggle to get reliable electrical supply, which is a problem that is inherent to life in the industrialised world. Being connected from local grids to the camps is exceedingly expensive due to the pre-existing absence of infrastructure to handle electrical poles or wires given how far away refugee camps often are from city centres. The procedure is lengthy and expensive since everything must be built from the ground up; even after it is finished, the distance disrupts supply. As a result, the power is frequently interrupted irregularly, leaving the camp in total darkness at night. Alternative internal power sources, such as diesel generators, and solar panels, have been developed by the UN, but they are too expensive, polluting, or unstable, depending on the situation. This has made it more difficult for the refugees to access education. Research has demonstrated that learning is affected by dim or sunlight-dependent classroom illumination, which prevents refugees from receiving a proper education.

Additionally, it is risky for kids to be out late because evenings are frequently completely dark, and learning cannot happen in the dark because no one can see. To learn or complete their assignments, students are limited to daylight hours. In actuality, the reason that so many refugee children drop out of school and contribute to the low enrolment rates is that they are unable to do their homework at night and devote the necessary time to comprehending what they are being taught. This is made worse by the fact that students could use their phones (assuming they have one) to view instructive videos or locate answers online but may be unable to do so during power outages. It makes sense that any remaining battery life will be reserved for emergencies during these periods since phones cannot be charged. Refugees are therefore helpless in these situations because education is out of reach and there are no other options due to inconsistent electricity.


One of the biggest obstacles to education in the twenty-first century is not having access to the Internet. Since the invention of the Internet, global connectivity has increased significantly, and education has become a distinctive aspect of the online experience. The Internet is crucial for learning, whether it’s because it makes it simple to find information via articles and videos or because interactive platforms enable online discussions even outside of scheduled class times. Like with power, refugee camps are progressively receiving Internet service, but they are limited by their distance from urban centres. One of the biggest obstacles to education in the twenty-first century is the lack of Internet connection. Since the creation of the Internet, the globe has been increasingly connected online, and education has developed into a distinctive aspect of the online experience.

“The Internet is crucial for learning, whether it is for the simplicity with which articles and videos may be searched for information or for the interactive platforms that support online discussions even outside of scheduled class times.” While refugee camps are gradually receiving Internet service, just like with electricity, they are limited by their distance from urban centres. Because Internet connectivity infrastructure is not frequently created in places near national boundaries, there is the well-known issue of cost and construction time. Hardcopy notes have an obvious substitute in the form of the Internet, but since connections are rarely reliable, access to educational resources is completely barred. This is regrettable because it has been shown that a lot of migrants love using online tools to educate themselves.

When the Internet is accessible, students use it to independently research knowledge or practical skills they can gain or hone. It is even more heart-warming to see that many young migrants go to the trouble of looking up content to continue where they left off at school before fleeing. We see their earnest desire for access to knowledge in whatever form and feel compelled to offer them a practical answer that not only offers dated information but also leverages technology to keep them current with emerging ideas. With how far technology has advanced, there are more methods to use it to provide education to refugees while they are offline, even if they have no other option and are unable to access the Internet.

Refugee Employment

The job difficulties faced by refugees must be methodically addressed by the international community and countries. Giving refugees jobs is not enough; the private sector must also be involved in this process. To assist the host countries in creating jobs, incentives might be created to offer skill development programmes and build a talent pipeline. The inexperience of refugees in the local labour market is one of their difficulties. According to studies, this gap can be closed by connecting immigrants with accomplished individuals from other fields. To assist them integrate into the labour market more quickly, they might also ask successful people for advice. In order to help refugees, obtain long-term jobs, it is essential to teach them the skills necessary.

By doing this, they will be able to rebuild their lives and make incomes that are appropriate for their skill levels. Because of this, European governments have developed a wide range of assistance programmes to aid in these individuals’ finding employment. These include traineeships, bridging measures, language and orientation programmes, vocational training and education, and financial incentives for companies. There are many options for refugees to find jobs despite the evident difficulties. For many refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, remote employment could offer a respectable means of subsistence. This is a start in the right direction, and it might benefit the host countries as well. Working remotely could help the local economy in addition to generating a reliable income. Language ability is the biggest barrier to job placement for refugees. According to a recent survey, language proficiency is the largest obstacle for migrants to land a good job. Finding a job can be challenging for refugees of all educational backgrounds.

Refugee Safety

Refugee groups sense safety in several different ways. Individual traits including race, household size, and marital status have an impact on how safe people perceive their surroundings. “Refugees from Syria and Somalia perceive their homes as less safe than refugees from the DRC, Iraq, and Bhutan. Both physical and emotional health can be harmed by a lack of safety.” Refugees are susceptible to infections and suffer mental health problems if they do not have consistent access to water and sanitary facilities. Additionally, they are more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. A World Health Organization survey found that refugees’ mental health suffers as a result of the uncertainty they experience. Refugees’ health can be improved and their lives can be rebuilt by expanding access to safety. It is a fundamental human right to seek safety.

Achieving it, though, can be challenging. More than 100 million people are reportedly displaced at this moment, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however, ensures the safety of refugees. Discrimination should not be allowed to interfere with this right, claims the UNHCR. Individual, environmental, and social factors all affect how safe we perceive ourselves to be. People were more likely to feel safe in their surroundings if they attended events that were representative of their own or other cultures. Participants who reported facing discrimination in their native country were also less likely to feel secure in their new country. These aspects demonstrate the need for additional study.

Inability of a Refugee to access Legal Representation

With a long history of movement to, from, and within its boundaries, India stands at the crossroads of South Asia. However, its laws and practises frequently seemed arbitrary. On the one hand, the nation saw significant levels of forced migration during the 20th century as people escaped conflict before, during, and after partition with its South Asian neighbours. On the other side, it is still a shelter for a lot of migrants. India, however, is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention nor does it have a national statute for managing asylum claims. The estimated 250,000 present refugees and asylum seekers have thus been handled by the government in an ad hoc manner, leaving many of them exposed to neglect and hardship. These humanitarian migrants who lack access to many forms of government-issued identification frequently fall between the cracks in formal socioeconomic inclusion programmes and may end up on the outskirts of society, having an impact not only on themselves but also on future generations.

The right to use a variety of amenities that provide social welfare and well health is also granted to refugees. They are entitled to a lifestyle that is suitable for their health and well-being. This includes the ability to access the courts in the event of a breach of their rights and to receive non-discriminatory treatment therein. However, in practice, many refugees frequently find it difficult to use these services because of obstacles like poverty, marginalisation, and discrimination. Extreme poverty is a reality for many migrants and refugees. The poorest of them, who are the most vulnerable, are unable to participate in most routine livelihood programmes. Additionally, they lack fundamental knowledge and self-assurance. Leaving extreme poverty is made more difficult by all of this.

The Refugee Conundrum – Navigating an uneven landscape


There is no law in India that deals with refugees. Instead, the structure for the management of refugees and asylum seekers continues to be ad hoc, with a unique dual system in which the government and UNHCR are given equal responsibility for the caseload of asylum seekers, with the government bearing the greater portion. The government is directly responsible for managing asylum applicants from nearby nations, primarily Tibetans and Sri Lankans. “The UNHCR must be contacted in order to determine a person’s refugee status and obtain the necessary papers for arrivals from all non-neighbouring nations, including Myanmar, which borders India to the east. Most of the refugees under UNHCR’s purview are from Afghanistan or Myanmar”.

A few antiquated regulations, such as the Passport Act of 1920 and the Foreigners Act of 1946, regulate all foreigners in India. The government has broad detention and deportation authority over these undocumented migrants, and it is not required to make any distinctions based on humanitarian concerns. Many refugees, asylum seekers, and potential humanitarian migrants experience a lack of legal status because of this in real life. UNHCR has identified certain people as refugees, but the Indian government does not always formally recognise this status, leaving it up to individual administrators at schools, hospitals, and other institutions to decide whether to recognise them based on their unique requirements. The legal status of several of these individuals is ambiguous.

They, therefore, fight every day to exercise even the most fundamental rights that the federal government has committed to grant them. An example would be that while one government school might accept a kid who has been designated as a refugee by UNHCR, another might be well within its rights to refuse admittance on the grounds that the child is an “illegal” resident. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the breadth of these migrants’ precocity and fragility, which makes life challenging even in the best of circumstances. Many of them were unable to access government relief programmes or medical treatment due to their unclear legal status, and when the lockdown eliminated their source of income, few had any savings to fall back on.


Given the ongoing global effort to protect human rights, it is impossible to disregard the legislative void in Indian refugee legislation. Being a signatory to the UDHR, India should make an effort to comprehend the breadth and nature of refugees from the adjacent nation. It is crucial that the Indian legal system essentially makes a distinction between the subjects of a foreigner, illegal immigrants, and refugees. The conversation about the refugee crisis and the assertion that there is a specific legal framework in place to address this issue is not new. But with the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, the geopolitical landscape of today has undergone a significant transformation.

In light of this, reliance on the Foreigners Act or the CAA would not be fair to refugees and would only serve to prevent them from ever enjoying a quality of life that is appropriate, especially if they were victims of war or genocide in their home country. According to what has been witnessed, the judiciary’s interpretation of each case’s circumstances has allowed the issue to persist without wreaking havoc, but the refugees will be safe if there is a proactive and comprehensive system for resolving it. In addition, there must be a comprehensive system that takes refugees’ social and economic needs into account.

In order to examine the National Register of Citizens on the grounds of identifying citizens, it is only necessary to ratify the Refugee Convention of 1967 in the short term. By identifying them, it will be easy for them to receive benefits, which will restore their faith in the system. This action will not only give the refugees a sense of community and security. As a result, India’s legal system needs to be updated in accordance with international commitments in order to better defend the spirit of its Constitution and ensure that Indian citizenship is consistent with the human rights paradigm.