Battle in Myanmar forces people to enter Mizoram

The fresh influx of refugees from military coup hit Myanmar continued with around 500 more Myanmarese forced to take shelter in Mizoram
Battle in Myanmar forces people to enter Mizoram

AIZAWL: The fresh influx of refugees from military coup hit Myanmar continued with around 500 more Myanmarese forced to take shelter in Mizoram in the past few days as the Army and the opposition forces continued fierce battle in the country's western region.

According to the Mizoram government officials, with the fresh arrival of the refugees, the number of migrants from Myanmar taking shelter in Mizoram increased to around 11,500 since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1.

Local police and district officials, legislators and others while talking to IANS over phone from different places of Mizoram said that the desperate refugees from Myanmar crossed the Tiau River through small country boat and swam across to take shelter in the bordering villages of the northeastern state of India.

"The river Tiau (which flows along the Champhai district in eastern Mizoram), which is the international boundary, was crossed by the refugees in small boats with the help of local Mizo people. The ill fated poor people with no other alternative to survive from the Army attacks took shelter in our side and the Mizo villagers on humanitarian ground provided them food and shelter," a Mizoram Parliament member refusing to be named told IANS over phone from Aizawl.

He said that the fresh immigrants including women and children took shelter in 15 to 16 villages in Mizoram's three districts – Champhai, Lawngtlai and Hnahthial districts bordering Myanmar.

Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana also told the media in Aizawl that if the attacks and counter-attacks by the Myanmar military and the opposition forces continue, more people are likely to come into Mizoram for shelter. Most of the refugees from Myanmar have been provided makeshift shelters by various local NGOs, including the Young Mizo Association which also provided them food, medicines and other basic necessities on humanitarian ground, while several others are living with their relatives.

The District administrations of the bordering districts are unable to officially help the migrants as they are yet to be granted refugee status by the Indian government or any international agencies.

According to the people acquainted with the happening in Myanmar and media and intelligence reports, the fresh refugee influx took place in Mizoram as the Burmese government-in-exile, the National Unity Government (NUG), called for a countrywide uprising earlier last week and clashed with the military soldiers who undertook massive operations against the resistance forces.

They said that Chinland Defence Force and Chin National Army (or Chin National Force) in joint operations last week captured the Myanmar Army camp at Lungler village opposite to Mizoram border and had detained 12 Myanmar Army soldiers. After that the military authority had sent a few helicopters and two jet fighters to launch a counter attack.

Sounds of fierce gunfights and bursting of shells and use of other firearms between the cadres of anti-coup NUG and the Myanmar army could be heard from the villages bordering Myanmar. Officials of the Crime Investigation Department (CID), which maintains the data of Myanmarese refugees, said that around 11,500 refugees, including about 20 legislators, have taken shelter in Mizoram's 11 districts since March this year.

The Champhai district along the India-Myanmar border is currently sheltering 4,550 refugees, the highest, followed by Aizawl district where 1,700 refugees have taken shelter. A majority of those who have taken shelter in the bordering state belong to the Chin community, also known as the Zo community, who share the same ancestry, ethnicity and culture as the Mizos of Mizoram.

Six Mizoram districts - Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual - share 510 km unfenced borders with Myanmar. (IANS)

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Sentinel Assam