Message from UNHCR India to Asylum Seekers and Refugees

05 January 2021

  1. As you are aware, following the COVID19 outbreak, UNHCR and partners have not been able to receive asylum seekers and refugees at their respective offices for interviews because of the COVID situation since 21 March 2020.  As there are continued public health risks because of COVID, which also impact staff, refugees and asylum seekers, UNHCR will have to continue with its adjusted service delivery by remote mode until further notice. Partners in your locations are keeping refugees and asylum seekers informed as and when they resume receiving you at their office premises but till further notice from them, they would also continue to function remotely.     
  2. UNHCR and partners wish it could be a different situation, however in the interest of everyone’s health, safety and welfare we are unfortunately still not able to receive refugees and asylum seekers in person and the following adjusted services, which by  now you are already familiar with, will continue remotely:
  3. For registration and refugee status determination services (RSD),the following applies:
    • Persons seeking new registration will receive an appointment letter for a remote registration interview after they contact UNHCR and/or the partner office in their locations.
    • Persons seeking renewal of documents: Refugee Card renewal and Under Consideration Certificate (UCC) extension will continue to be carried out ONLY through UNHCR’s adjusted remote services, till further notice.
      • All asylum seekers or refugees whose UCC or Refugee Card require extension/renewal will continue to receive an electronic UCC or blue paper Refugee Certificate (not a Refugee Card), with a validity of six months through UNHCR or partner in the location where they reside.
      • Those who have not received a renewed document and are in a location with a partner presence, please contact that partner, see annexure 1.
      • Those who are in a location without any partner presence, please contact UNHCR on 1800 1035635 (toll free), 9810173130 or [email protected]    
    • All RSD interviews scheduled to take place in person (face to face) at the UNHCR Office in Vasant Vihar and Vikas Puri in 2021 are postponed until further notice. UNHCR will gradually start contacting asylum seekers individually with a new RSD date for a remote RSD interview only (not in person, face to face interview). Asylum Seekers who do not get a new RSD interview date should not get worried as they will be contacted and would get a new RSD interview date in due course.  
    • All are requested to share their updated contact details (address, phone number and email ID) in case there is any change.  
  4. Remote and adjusted community engagements  and individual support
    • UNHCR and partners will continue to engage remotely with your community through group engagement and by having meetings with your Community Leaders on issues of common concern to find a joint way forward to address some. 
    • Request for individual support on urgent issues: In case you need to reach UNHCR for urgent issues, you are requested to continue to make use of UNHCR’s Toll Free number 18001035635 and/ or write to UNHCR at [email protected]. UNHCR will take action as needed.
    • You can also contact the focal points of UNHCR and partner staff, refugee volunteers,  on issues related to registration of asylum seekers, document renewal, legal aid, psychosocial and health concerns, prevention and response to sexual and gender based violence, conflicts with landlords, education, and other COVID impacted concerns
    • You can also continue to contact your Community Leaders, Youth, Women and Elderly Club Leaders and other leadership groups for urgent/emergency community and/or individual issues. Your leaders will continue to liaise with UNHCR and partners over phone/email/WhatsApp.
    • For support from UNHCR and partners throughout India on all these aspects, please contact us through the relevant channels as shown in the attached charts.
    • UNHCR understands the pressing needs that asylum seekers and refugees are facing and remains committed to expanding our services based on the feedback from your representatives and you, using online tools to address those needs where possible.

      Please also note:
  5. Given public health risks for staff, asylum seekers and refugees due to COVID19, UNHCR and some partners who have to yet resume face to face meetings will continue to not receive asylum seekers and refugees at their respective offices, for any in person meeting, interview or service till further notice. We thus strongly urge you to continue to NOT approach UNHCR, and some partner offices, which have to yet resume face to face meetings, individually and/or in groups, as UNHCR and these partners will not be able to respond to and/or act on your requests or demands. Please note that any undue pressure will compel UNHCR / partners to take necessary action with the help of authorities. You are thus requested to not involve yourself in such acts.
  6. While we prepare ourselves for the time that will allow us to meet again in person, you are requested to continue to protect yourself and your community from COVID19, and to continue making use of the remote channels of communications detailed above.    
  7. You and your Community Leaders have shown courage, determination, resilience and solidarity and we are sure that you will continue to do so. We also continue to seek your cooperation and understanding to deal with the situation COVID-19 has created around the world and we thank you for your continued support and understanding.