The 200 odd Myanmar refugees that entered Mizoram after fleeing from their homeland in the aftermath of armed conflict between Myanmar Army and Arakan Army militants are still languishing in south Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district.
Initially, there were around 1,700 refugees taking shelter in Lawngtlai district spread across four villages of Zochachhuah, Laitlang, Dumzautlang and Hmawngbuchhuah.
The refugees entered Mizoram on November 25 last year following the crackdown launched by Myanmar Army against Arakan Army militants.
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 Burmese Army retaliated by thrashing anything that came in their way and many civilians became victims of the retaliation and were forced to flee their villages.
The refugees, mostly Buddhists and Christians, were from Paletwa and neighbouring villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
Though the Myanmar government has asked them to return to their respective villages these over 200 refugees from 60 families still remain in Mizoram and are reluctant to return to their villages.
The refugees are at present taking refuge at Hmawngbuchhuah village in the Bumtlang subdivision and are supporting themselves as the Mizoram government has stopped giving them food and other relief aids after the Myanmar government declared that their villages are safe.
Their tales of sufferings seem to have won the sympathy of the locals at Hmawngbuchhuah; the refugees said that all their houses were burnt down by the Burmese Army and they pleaded the local NGOs to accommodate them.
One of the main reasons for the reluctance of these refugees to return to their villages was fear of landmines being planted in their area, according to Mizoram police.