Myanmar Refugees in India Lack Support: NGOs

By The Irrawaddy 24 August 2022

The number of refugees from Myanmar in India has reached 50,000 of which over four-fifths are ethnically Chin with all needing security guarantees, according to Chin organizations.

The junta has torched thousands of homes in Chin State with only Sagaing and Magwe regions seeing more arson attacks, according to Data For Myanmar. In Thantlang alone, over 1,000 houses were burned down by junta troops.

Ongoing fighting – between the regime and armed groups like the Chin National Army, which was established in 1988 as the armed wing of the Chin National Front (CNF), and newly founded groups –prevents civilians from returning.

There are also thousands of civilians displaced within Chin State, in need of food and medicine. Thousands of children lack access to education, said Salai Isaac Khen, a prominent Chin activist and member of the Interim Chin National Consultative Council. The body was formed in April 2021 with representatives from the CNF, elected MPs, striking civil servants and political parties to oppose the dictatorship and build Chin institutions to guarantee self-determination, equality and federalization.

Salai Isaac Khen said the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, only had an office in New Delhi and was not represented in northeast India. And India had not signed international refugee treaties, like the Refugee Convention, he said.

“But both the Indian central government and the Mizoram state administration are doing their best from the humanitarian perspective and we are very appreciative,” Salai Isaac Khen said.

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) reported that 50,698 refugees from India had reached India by August 24, including about 4,000 ethnically Bamar refugees and former government staff who had joined the civil disobedience movement.

Most ethnically Chin refugees are in Mizoram state in northeast India, according to the CHRO.

Salai Mang Hre Lian of the CHRO said the refugees are mainly being supported by communities in Mizoram, the Chin diaspora and some Christian organizations. The United Nations is not able to officially support them.

“It is really difficult for refugees to make a living but they are trying their best to cope,” he said.

Mai Zing Zing, 24, is an ethnically Chin refugee who fled six months ago with her 16-year-old sister to the state capital Aizawl.

She protested against the regime and fled amid numerous arrests of young activists.

“We left our parents in Hakha. I can’t find a job as my degree from Myanmar is useless in India. There are many refugees around the town. Many continue to fight the junta in Chin State,” she said.

“Support for the refugees gives moral support to their relatives in Chin State who are still fighting the junta.”