Some 5,000 Myanmar refugees have just entered Mizoram
Another humanitarian crisis is unfolding as over 5,000 Myanmar nationals have taken shelter in Zokhawthar in Mizoram's Champhai district after fleeing from the violence in the junta-run nation. Many civil society groups have reached out to help the refugees.
The Young Mizo Association (YMA), other non-profits and the village council have provided food, clothes and medicines to the refugees who living in tents in Zokhawthar.
The fresh rush of refugees happened after an airstrike by the Myanmar army along the Indo-Myanmar border. The Myanmar military is fighting rebel groups that seek to overthrow the junta.
A significant number of refugees from Myanmar, estimated between 5,000 and 6,000, came to India in recent days. They are being supported by NGOs and the district administration, who are giving essential items such as food and clothing.
"5000-6,000 people have come to India. Here, some NGOs provide food and clothing. The district administration and minister are also helping the Myanmar people with what they need. Here, they are living very peacefully. We care about them and whatever problem they have, we get help from the Young Mizo Association. We just go and help them if they have problems," said F Biaktinsanga, financial secretary of the YMA.
Media reports said the intense fighting between the Myanmar army and the PDF started after the latter attacked military bases at Khawmawi and Rihkhawdar in Chin State, near the border with India. According to the media report, the PDF took over the Myanmar military base at Rihkhawdar on Monday. Seven people were reportedly killed and 20 were injured in the gunfight.
Eastern Mizoram's six districts -- Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual -- share a 510-km-long unfenced and mountainous border with Myanmar's Chin State. The first influx from the neighbouring country happened in February 2021 when the junta seized power. Since then, 32,000 people from Myanmar have taken shelter in the northeastern state.
A majority of the refugees live in relief camps and government buildings, while many others are accommodated by their relatives. A large number of Myanmar nationals have been staying in rented houses.
The state government, church bodies, YMA, other NGOs and individuals are providing food to Myanmar refugees, who belong to the Chin tribes and share ethnic ties with the Mizos, besides having language and lifestyle similarities. The Mizoram government earlier sought financial and logistical support from the centre for the Myanmar nationals. The Union government is yet to respond.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga has written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and central ministers seeking financial and logistical support for Myanmar refugees. "Many children are here, and some women are also here. We provide daal, Cerelac and milk for the children and some vitamins. We also provide diapers and clothes for children because they didn't take anything with them when they fled their country. They do not have anything like blankets or mattress, so we provide them," said Biaktinsanga.