Over 1,000 more refugees enter Mizoram as fighting in Myanmar border intensifies

A new wave of migrants crossed the border on May 17, according to Champhai deputy commissioner James Lalrinchhana, and by May 22 (Wednesday), over a thousand individuals, including women and children, had sought safety in the area.

On Thursday, May 23rd, 2024, the district administration informed that over 1,000 people had taken refuge in Mizoram’s Myanmar border district of Champhai after the fighting intensified between Myanmar’s rebel forces and the ruling junta, which has been going on since May 19.

The Chin National Army, the armed ethnic group that controls the Chin State, said that its soldiers had taken control of Cikha and Tonzang towns in the Falam district of Tonzang township, which is close to the Indian border, according to Salai Htet Ni, the spokesperson for the organization, who was quoted by the Irrawaddy on May 20.

Chin National Army Takes Control of Towns Near Myanmar Border

A new wave of migrants crossed the border on May 17, according to Champhai deputy commissioner James Lalrinchhana, and by May 22 (Wednesday), over a thousand individuals, including women and children, had sought safety in the area.

Myanmar border
Source: Hindustan Times

“They started entering our district on May 17 midnight. Most of them have taken shelter with their relatives in Khuangphah and Vaikhawtlang area near Indo-Myanmar international border,” he told HT.

According to the report, the Chin resistance troops took over the towns on May 19, following a four-day battle with Junta forces. According to officials, some 200 refugees from an area close to Khuangphah village in the same district crossed the border, while another 600 Myanmar refugees from Chin state sought sanctuary in Vaikhawtlang village in Champhai district.

“Their lives were in danger in their country and they have taken shelter here. We are aware of the movement and believe that they’ll go back home once the situation becomes normal there,” officials said.

The military branch of the junta-aligned Zomi Revolutionary Organisation (ZRO), known as the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), is also engaged in combat. Active in the Churachandpur area of Manipur, which borders Myanmar, it is also found in the Chin State of that nation.

Even though a CNA official claimed that all of Cikha had been taken on May 19, military airstrikes in Tonzang had not yet resulted in the region’s complete liberation from Junta control.

Myanmar border
Source: News18

Lalrinchhana said the administration has not received any request for assistance and local NGOs have been supporting the new batch of refugees. “We are yet to get calls for support from them. As per our reports, most of them are staying with their relatives. Some are staying in shelter homes and we are providing them security,” he said.

Another news report on May 22 stated that the air raids were continuing on Tonzang, making it difficult for “charity workers to provide necessities for (to) thousands of civilians fleeing bullets and bombs.”

An estimated 36,500 Myanmar refugees are living in the state’s 11 districts. To house the evacuees, the state government constructed 149 relief camps spread across seven districts. Myanmar and six districts of Mizoram—Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Hnahthial, Serchhip, and Saitual—share a boundary.

Mizoram borders the Chin state of Myanmar by 510 km, and the Mizos are related to the Chin people ethnically. Due to these connections, a sizable portion of the Champhai district populace participated in last week’s demonstration against the federal government’s decision to revoke the Free Movement Regime between India and Myanmar.

The Zo Re-Unification Organisation (Zoro), a Mizo organization, coordinated the demonstrations. Its goal is to unite all Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi tribes in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar under a single administrative body. People can travel up to 16 kilometers on both sides of the international border under the free movement rule.

A unanimous resolution opposing the Center’s plan to fence the India-Myanmar border and terminate the FMR agreement with the neighboring war-torn nation has been adopted by the 40-member Mizoram Assembly.

Residents living along the 1,643 km border between the two nations are permitted to enter each other’s territory up to 16 km away without a visa and remain there for a short time under the terms of the FMR agreement. According to authorities, the number of refugees in the northeastern state has topped 36,500 with the most recent migration.

The majority of the Myanmar citizens seeking asylum in Mizoram are members of the Chin ethnic group, who are related to the Mizos. Concerns over the unilateral shutdown of the Friendship Bridge between Myanmar and Mizoram without consultation have been brought up by Chief Minister Lalduhawma with the Assam Rifles, who protect the Myanmar border.

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