UN agency reports 1,800 new arrivals in the last week of September alone
Myanmarese policemen, who fled Myanmar and crossed illegally to India, hold the three-finger salute in a temporary shelter at an undisclosed location in India's northeastern state of Mizoram on March 13, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
Fighting in Myanmar has prompted thousands more to flee from Chin state and seek refuge in neighboring Mizoram state in India.
There were 1,800 new arrivals in the last week of September alone, bringing the total number of refugees to 48,000, according to the latest report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The report said more people are expected to cross into India due to the intensifying conflict.
“Humanitarian assistance to support Covid-19 recovery and seasonal shocks continues via the provision of food and CRIs to the most vulnerable new arrivals from Myanmar and nearby host communities,” said the report.
The agency said nearly 6,200 children from Myanmar are now enrolled in government-run and private schools in Mizoram.
The exodus of people from Myanmar’s western Chin state to flee to Mizoram has been steady since fighting erupted between the military and various militias following the coup last year.
Renewed fighting in Rakhine state between the military and the Arakan Army that spilled into Paletwa township, southern Chin state, since August has also led to ethnic Chin becoming internally displaced.
"Dozens of churches have been burned down"
Churches, NGOs and other organizations in Mizoram have been at the frontline providing food and shelter for Myanmar refugees.
Mizoram shares a long border with Myanmar, where the military seized power on Feb. 1, 2021, after toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and putting several political leaders and activists behind bars.
Fighting has intensified in northwestern Myanmar including Christian-majority Chin state where the military has used air strikes and artillery shelling against new militia groups that has led to scores of civilians being killed and thousands of people being displaced, according to media reports.
Impoverished Chin state has been at the vanguard of resistance to the military regime and has witnessed fierce retaliatory attacks including aerial bombing, heavy shelling and indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
Dozens of churches have been burned down, vandalized and destroyed by junta soldiers while priests and pastors have also been targeted.
The Church has played a key role in providing humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially in the dioceses of Loikaw in Kayah and neighboring Pekhon in southern Shan state and Hakha and Kalay dioceses and Mandalay archdiocese that cover parts of the embattled Sagaing region.
Myanmar bishops have repeatedly called for access to the increasing number of IDPs who are in dire need of food, shelter and medicine.
“In our country, thousands of people are suffering from the political, economic and humanitarian crises while churches and monasteries have been bombed, villages have been burned and people are killed,” Cardinal Bo said in a homily on Oct. 9.
As of Oct. 3, there were an estimated 1,349,000 IDPs, including 1,019,00 people who have been newly displaced within the country since February 2021, according to the latest UN refugee agency report.
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