Fleeing unrest, over 8,000 Myanmar refugees crossed through Mizoram in a week

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Guwahati: More than 8,000 Myanmar refugees who are being persecuted in their own country and fear for their lives have reportedly arrived in Mizoram this week after “shots and bombings” broke out in at least three Myanmar villages across the Champhai district border was.

A county government staff census on Thursday put the exact number of refugees who crossed the border this week at 8,149. State government sources said the shooting likely occurred in the villages of Haimual, Rih and Khawmawi in Myanmar’s Chin state.

February 1 marks a year since a military coup in Myanmar toppled the elected National League for Democracy government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since then, stubborn resistance to the military has flared up, especially in the west and south of the country, and has been confronted with the increasing brutality of the military regime. Chin State is at the forefront of armed resistance against the Myanmar junta. The Myanmar military has allegedly have been burning villages in Chin and Kayah states since December to quell the rebellion.

On January 29, the sound of gunfire was heard from Zokhawthar Village in Champhai District, a border village separated by the Tiau River from Khawmawi in Myanmar.

The state of Mizoram shares a 400 km border with Myanmar.


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refugees by the thousands

“According to local leaders in Zokhawthar, over 2,000 refugees had recently entered the village. In the refugee aid camp, however, we could only count 600. But the movement is very fluid, they’re coming, they’re going, some are still crossing over, some have receded,” a government official who visited Zokhawthar told ThePrint.

Meanwhile, another state government official said, “We noticed the influx from the side of Zokhawthar, some time ago this was from the side of Saiah district, we cannot send them back because it is a humanitarian crisis.”

Officials said Myanmar refugees have also come to the nearby villages of Melbuk, Hruaikawn and Bulfekzawl in Champhai district.

While the number of refugees who continue to cross over to Mizoram and return to their villages in Myanmar is much higher, about 10,000 refugees have entered and stayed in Mizoram in the past year, according to the state government.

according to a reportBetween January 5 and 20, over 2,000 people entered the southernmost districts of Mizoram, Hnahthial and Saiha, which border Myanmar.

Strain on the villagers’ resources

The influx of refugees from across the border has taken a toll on the villagers who have sheltered them.

“It is very difficult for them because the government cannot officially manage the refugees themselves because of the attitude of the central government. Some of them (the refugees) don’t even have blankets and jackets,” said MC Lalramenga, President of the Young Mizo Association of Tuipuiral in Champhai District.

Given that India is not a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the Indian government’s position on the refugee issue is in order variance on the Mizoram government’s decision to provide sanctuary to the Chin, who are ethnically related to the Mizos.

The first government official, quoted by ThePrint, said local leaders had formed “village-level communities” to coordinate efforts for the arrivals.

“The village-level communities take good care of the refugees who have crossed the border and find empty buildings and schools. About 90 percent of them are housed in schools, halls and vacant houses, while some have come to live with their relatives,” the official said.

“The local leaders don’t have the resources to accommodate them. We’re also trying our best to provide them with silpaulin leaves and some money for their food,” he added.

A makeshift camp was also set up along the nearby Tiau River, which forms part of the India-Myanmar border.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)


Also read: “I believe in democracy, it shouldn’t be a crime” – Refugees from Myanmar hope for the fall of the junta


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