Intense gunfight in Myanmar forces 1,400 Myanmarese to take shelter in Mizoram

Around 1,400 Myanmarese, including women and children, took shelter in eastern Mizoram’s Champhai District during the past 48 hours following the gun battle between the Army and civilian outfits in their homeland, officials said on Tuesday.

Indian officials said that the massive gunfight between Myanmar’s Tatmadaw (military) and pro-democratic force People’s Defence Force (PDF) have been going on for the past several days causing the fresh influx of refugees from the neighbouring country.

Champhai district’s District Organiser V.L. Hruaimawia said that on Monday around 1,400 men, women and children fled from the Chin region of Myanmar and took shelter in the district.

“The district administration has provided food and relief materials to the refugees. Necessary medical aid were also given to those hapless evacuees,” Hruaimawia told IANS over phone from Champhai.

He said that with the fresh arrival of refugees, the number of refugees from Myanmar taking shelter only in Champhai District rose to 7,004, adding that the newly-arrived Myanmar nationals may return to their country after the situation normalises.

Media reports said that the intense fighting between the Army and the PDF started after the latter attacked military bases at Khawmawi and Rihkhawdar in Chin state near the Indian border. According to the media report, the PDF has taken over the Myanmar military base at Rihkhawdar on Monday.

Around seven people were reportedly killed and 20 others 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 and a large number of Myanmarese have been staying in rented houses.

The state government, Church bodies, Mizoram’s largest voluntary body Young Mizo Association, NGOs and many individuals are providing food to the Myanmar refugees, who belong to the Chin tribal community, who share close ethnic ties with the Mizos besides having language and lifestyle similarities. The Mizoram government earlier sought financial and logistical support to the Center for the Myanmar nationals, but the Union government has yet to respond.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga wrote several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central ministers seeking financial and logistical support for the Myanmar refugees.

20231114162029

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