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HomeMyanmarThousands of Myanmar refugees live in limbo in Mizoram State, India

Thousands of Myanmar refugees live in limbo in Mizoram State, India

  • More than 13,000 thousand have fled homes and crossed border into India and having shelters in Mizoram State, India 
  • Thousands more are on the way to crossing the border
  • Lack of humanitarian aid for those refugees by international agencies 
  • Military council is building up a large troops in Chin State as part of large-scale operation against the resistance groups such as Chin National Army, Chinland Defense Force, Chin National Defense Force. 

Brisbane (Chindwin): The fighting started in August in the southern town – Mindat, which quickly escalated to Thantlang and now in Hakha and Falam township in the north of Chin State that preceded the Tatmadaw, also known as Myanmar military’s extensive operations in Chin State, has created political chaos.  

The war causes an increasing influx of displaced civilians, mostly innocent women and children, who are forced to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

What has happened in Chin State?

The military that seized power on 01 February has launched onslaught to eliminate all resistance groups across the country, including the groups fighting against the military junta in Chin State. 

In August, the big military offensive in Mindat town has displaced more than 40,000 thousands, running into the jungles for hiding. They have been living in the jungles under the rainy season amidst the danger of deadly deceases caused by moonsoon rain. They become forgotten people in the jungle with little help from the outside world. 

Families are eating food on the ground with limited water supply. Photo; Handout.

As soon as the military junta launched big offensive against Chinland Defense Force – Mindat in Mindat, all communications [both internet and telephone lines], transport for supplies, information were immediately cut off. 

In the north, the entire town of Thantlang – home to more than 10,000 residents has emptied as all residents are forced to flee their homes after the constant attacks against civilians and rockets grenade shelling on civilians and residential properties. 

There are reports about children being extremely vulnerable and dying in the jungles without proper food as tropical diseases have been catastrophic effects on internally displaced people (IDPs) due to the rainy season in Myanmar. Chindwin has attempted to contact the committee responsible for facilitating humanitarian aid for IDPs (Internally Displaced People) but failed to verify the report. 

The new military junta’s offensives in several villages across the main highway between Hakha city and Falam Town forced an additional 10,000 people, with thousands heading on the way to the border to cross into India. Many families no longer have very few clothes, as the military junta already destroyed and burned down their properties. 

Soon after the mass displacement at Thantlang town in Chin State, the Tatmadaw continued to renew a bigger and larger operation and give a new name for its operation as “Operation Anwarahta” in a secret code to end the Chin people’s insurgency for democracy once and for all.

According to our source who requested anonymity, the aim of the operation is similar to the 2017 Rohingya genocide by the Myanmar military to ultimately eliminate the resistance groups such as the Chin National Front/Army (CNA) and Chinland Defense Forces (CDF) in the western corridor of the country. 

The military’s State Administrative Council’s all-out blitzkrieg operation against the Chin resistance groups has displaced around 60,000 thousands and killed nearly a hundred civilians, including some of the freedom fighters from CNA and CDF, destroying villages and towns. 

In a telephone interview with Yaw Mang, spokesperson for Chinland Defense Force – Mindat, he says, “Myanmar military is sending large convoys of reinforcements and supplies to Chin State on a daily basis and have cut off internet and telephone for communications in our area. Once the SAC’s soldiers arrive at their destination, an airstrike will be followed as part of their onslaught against us, adding that Alawngmintaya operation is aimed for People Defense Forces in the northwest of Sagaing region.”

Our sources in the south and north of Chin State confirm a large build-up of military council’s troops approaching Matupi from Mindat, while a convoy of around 47 trucks plus two armoured tanks out of 80 trucks have arrived in Hakha city, Chin State from Kalaymyo. The other 15 trucks have been destroyed by a joint strike by Chin National Army, Chinland Defense Force and Chin National Defense Force. 

Recent defector Hin Lian Piang revealed that the military junta uses inhumane bio-chemical weapons upon civilians and has placed two heavy artillery units of 120 mm in preparation for a larger operation in Hakha and Falam in Chin State.

Refugees arrive in Mizoram State, India

At present, there are a total of 13,583 Chin refugees already crossed into the shore of India and seeking refuge in the State of Mizoram, and numbers are expected to skyrocket in the coming weeks ahead.

Of all 13,583 Chin refugees from Myanmar currently in Mizoram State, India, 68% of them are women and children, and 32% are men, according to Mr S Lal Hu Lian, who is the General Secretary of Myanmar Refugee Relief Committee, and Information Secretary of United for Democratic for Myanma – a local not-for-profit organization. 

Mr Hu Lian also described the challenges faced by the refugees and stated that the condition of the refugees is poor. The Covid-19 pandemic that currently hits India makes things worse for everyone involved. 

With the exodus rapidly on the spike, Mr Hu Lian said that there are a total number of 24 refugee camps spreading across the entire Mizoram State, confirming that 3 in Aizawl, 15 in Tuipuiral, 2 in Champhai, 3 in Zokhawthar, 1 in Mawikawi.

Local NGO’s such as Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), Young Mizo Association (YMA), and Mizo Student Union (MSU) and residents are providing the refugee with shelter, food and clothing. 

Mr Hu Lian also stressed that relying on the goodwill of the local communities may not be sustainable as the state of Mizoram is battling a Covid-19 pandemic and suffering an economic crisis at a recent time. 

According to the NGOs of Mizoram, there has been a lack of assistance from UNHCR or other international agencies NGOs to assist the Chin refugees. Mr Ramsanga, President of Young Mizo Association (Lunglei, Chanmari Branch), described the current situation as “dire”, stating that the local YMA hall has been converted to accommodate the refugees, and they have to rely on the goodwill of the locals to bring them food, clothing and other necessities. 

Despite the fact that the Central Government of India has refused to accept refugees into India, the Mizo people who have close ties with Chin people are unofficially helping refugees from Myanmar.  

Concerns are mounting that refugees are facing new challenges at their unfamiliar places. As a Covid-19 pandemic currently hits India, there are huge concerns about the spread of the virus among the refugees currently living in a camp. According to Mr Hu Lian, because of the nature of the circumstances, people are forced to share a lot of the utilities due to limited resources, equipment’s, and spaces, resulting in a huge risk of the virus spreading like wildfire. 

There are also worries that the local volunteers face an uphill battle due to the lack of resources and funding. The assistance program by local communities may no longer be sustainable unless intervention is put in place by other international agencies.

Lawm Cangmah from Brisbane contributes to this report and editing by Simon Sang Hre


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