95 more Myanmar refugees enter Mizoram to avoid 'forceful' induction in militant outfit

IANS Photo

Aizawl, May 8 (IANS) Myanmar nationals continue to flee to Mizoram to evade recruitment in the 'Arakan Army' militant group, which, along with other pro-democracy armed ethnic groups, has been fighting against the country's army since the military junta seized power in the nation on February 1, 2021.

Though the Mizoram Home Department officials on Wednesday said that they are collecting reports of fresh arrival of refugees from Myanmar, there are reports that 95 more Myanmarese, including some women, fled to Mizoram during the past week and took shelter in Lawngtlai and other districts.

"We are collecting reports from the Deputy Commissioners of the border districts about the fresh arrivals of refugees from Myanmar. After getting details, we would take the next course of action," a state Home Department official, who did not want to be named, told IANS.

Six Mizoram districts - Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial, and Saitual – share a 510 km-long unfenced international border with Myanmar's Chin state.

With the new entrants, the number of Myanmar refugees, sheltered in Mizoram since February 2021, has risen to around 34,350, including 10,947 women and 13,302 children.

According to official records, 17,901 refugees are staying in rented accommodations or relatives’ houses while the remaining are in 149 relief camps spread over 7 districts.

Reports said that the 95 Myanmarese, including 10 women, recently fled Paletwa in the Chin region and entered into different districts in Mizoram during the past week to evade forcible recruitment in the Arakan Army.

Based out of Rakhine state, the Arakan Army is the largest armed ethnic outfit in the country and is recruiting people from the Chin region to intensify their battle against the army.

Besides the Myanmar nationals, around 10,000 men, women and children have also taken shelter in Mizoram after the ethnic violence broke out in neighbouring Manipur in May last year. Also, 1,167 persons from the Chittagong Hill tracts in Bangladesh have taken shelter in Mizoram since 2022 after the ethnic hostilities in the hilly areas of the neighbouring country.

The Kuki-Zomi-Chin tribes in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Manipur share ethnic ties, and cultural and linguistic similarities with the Mizo people.