Around 6,000 Ahmadi Muslims have fled state-sponsored persecution in Pakistan and are in south east Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia where many have obtained UNHCR refugee status.
Due to their host countries not being signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, their status as refugees does not qualify them to work, receive medical treatment or other basic state-sponsored assistance. Instead they are considered as illegals and overstayers, making them liable to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Consequently, Ahmadi Muslims remain at risk, and live in fear of deportation. A recent case in Malaysia highlights the real risk of refoulement where one Ahmadi Muslim has been deported back to Pakistan where he is now at serious risk of persecution. UNHCR does not have the financial means to support refugees, many of which have been stranded there for 5 – 10 years.
This means that Ahmadi refugees continue to survive with no subsistence and have no alternative financial support available to them. They live in horrific conditions especially within detention centres. There is an urgent and pressing need to resettle these refuges who are acknowledged by UNHCR as vulnerable.
UK RESETTLEMENT SCHEMES
The Mandate resettlement scheme resettles recognises refugees who have a close family member in the UK who is willing to accommodate them. It is a global scheme and there is no annual quota. Beneficiaries of the Mandate scheme must have been recognised as refugees by UNHCR and judged by them to be in need of resettlement. UNHCR has categorised Ahmadi refugees as a group with the greater need for resettlement.
Under the Mandate scheme, the refugee must be a minor child, spouse, parent or grandparent aged over 65 of someone settled in the UK and who is willing to accommodate and support them. Wider family members such as adult siblings will only be considered if there is an exceptional circumstance.
Ahmadi refugees currently have at least 100 siblings who are resident in the UK and are willing to sponsor, accommodate and support refugees within the UK. We therefore call on the British Government to exercise its discretion and to allow those refugees with siblings resident in the country to be granted resettlement under this scheme.