Mizoram Home Minister apologises to Myanmar refugees

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K. Sapdanga made the apology for not being able to meet their all needs adequately, citing the state’s limited resources….reports Asian Lite News

Mizoram Home Minister K. Sapdanga has apologised to over 33,000 Myanmar refugees, sheltering in the state since February 2021, for not being able to meet their all needs adequately, citing the state’s limited resources. 

Addressing an event in Aizawl on Sunday night, he said that the people of Mizoram consider the refugees as brothers and sisters of the Mizos.

Sapdanga, who also holds the Disaster Management portfolio, recounted his first visit to the refugee camps along the Mizoram-Myanmar border and his interaction with the refugees.

He expressed his sadness at the troubles of those who had fled their homes along with the children and ailing persons.

“You have taken shelter in Mizoram, what we call ‘Jerusalem of all the Mizos’, as you have no other option. But we are trying to help, though our resources are limited,” he said.

The Minister appealed for cooperation from all sections of people, including the refugees, to deal with the drug menace in Mizoram, particularly among youths. He expressed hope that the ethnic Myanmar nationals would achieve the freedom they are fighting for.

Adviser to the Chief Minister (Political) Lalmuanpuia Punte urged unity among all Chin tribal ethnic groups in their fight to overthrow the military junta and restore democracy in Myanmar, particularly in the Chin state of the neighbouring country.

Over 33,000 Myanmarese took shelter in Mizoram in different phases after the military takeover there in February 2021.

Besides the Myanmar nationals, over 15,000 Bangladeshi tribals, belonging to the Bawm community, took shelter in Mizoram since November 2022. The Bangladeshi refugees from Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of southeast Bangladesh fled from their villages and sought refuge in Mizoram after an offensive by the Bangladeshi Army against the insurgent group Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA).

Around 10,000 people including women and children belonging to Kuki-Zomi tribes, have also taken shelter in Mizoram after the ethnic violence broke out in neighbouring Manipur in May last year.

The Kuki-Zomi-Chin tribes in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Manipur share ethnic ties, and cultural and linguistic similarities with the Mizo people. Most refugees stay in rented accommodation and the homes of their relatives or friends, while others live in relief camps across the border state, which shares a 510-km-long unfenced border with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh.

The present Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) government and the previous Mizo National Front (MNF) government have sought financial assistance from the Centre for the relief and shelter of the Myanmar, Bangladeshi, and Manipur refugees.

Chief Minister Lalduhoma on Saturday discussed the Bangladeshi refugee issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and reportedly told him that the state government is reluctant to push back the refugees. An official of Mizoram Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said that the Chief Minister, during the meeting with the Prime Minister at his residence in New Delhi, apprised him that the Bangladeshi refugees, taking shelter in the state belong to the Bawm community, one of the ethnic Mizo tribes. Many more tribals from CHT of the same community are also trying to enter Mizoram, he told the Prime Minister.

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