Despite repeated assurances from the Myanmarese army, displaced refugees taking shelter in Mizoram are reluctant to return to their villages as they fear more violence in their native country between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army, the rebel outfit of Rohingya Muslims of Rakhaine.
These 15,000-odd Buddhist tribals belonging to the Chin community were caught between the clashes between the Myanmar army and the Arakan army close to their villages along Indo-Myanmar border close to Mizoram.
They speak the same language as the Lai in Mizoram who are mainly Christians. They entered Mizoram during the month of November last year and since then has been taking shelter at community halls and schools.
Around 420 refugees have settled in Zochachhuah, 500 in Laitlang, 120 in Dumzautlang and 200 in Hmawngchhuah villages across the district of Lawngtlai in Mizoram.
The repatriation, which was planned last week, had to be stalled after large scale opposition from members of the displaced community.
Lawngtlai Deputy Commissioner Arun T said village councils have been approached to convince the refugees to return to their villages. An official in Mizoram Police said some migrants expressed a willingness to return home after a few weeks, depending on the situation.
Relief including food and clothes were distributed to refugees by the district administration, Assam Rifles and local organisations such as Young Lai Association (YLA) and Mizoram Thalai Kristian Pawl (MTKP), the youth wing of the Baptist Church of Mizoram.
The crisis erupted at Paletwa after 11 soldiers of the Myanmar Army were reportedly killed on the Kaladan river after being ambushed by the Arakan Army on the border of Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine State. The fierce encounter that subsequently followed affected several villages and forced inhabitants to flee.
Paletwa is located northeast of the Rohingya heartland in Rakhine State of Myanmar where the military has launched a crackdown following a raid on police outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) with the assistance of local villagers on August 25 last year.