Mizoram is likely to witness the second wave of refugee influx from Myanmar as over 150 more people have recently sneaked into the state after the National Unity Government (NUG), a Burmese government in exile formed by elected but deposed legislators in the trouble-torn neighbouring country, has called for a nationwide uprising against the military junta on September 7, officials said.
Mizoram, which shares a 510 km long international border with Myanmar, has already sheltered thousands of Myanmar nationals, who fled their country after the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) seized power over a democratically elected government through a coup on February first this year.
Maria CT Zuali, the deputy commissioner of Champhai district, which borders Myanmar, said that at least 35 people from the neighbouring country sneaked into the district on Wednesday following the national wide uprising.
Hnahthial district deputy commissioner H. Dolianbuaia also said that about 60 Myanmar nationals entered the district since Thursday fleeing arm struggle between civilians and Myanmar military.
Sounds of fierce gunfight between the supporters of NUG and Myanmar army, which took place at a Myanmar remote village, was even heard from Thingsai, the nearest border village in Mizoram’s Hnahthial district, on Friday morning, he said.
“Our district has already hosted about 700 refugees from Maynmar. More people are likely to enter following the nationwide uprising in the neighbouring country,” he said.
Majority of the Myanmar nationals were given temporary shelters and food by local organisations and individuals on a humanitarian ground while others are living with their relatives, he said.
An official from Lawngtlai, the southernmost district of the state bordering Myanmar, said that around 60 people from the neighbouring country sneaked into some remote villages in the district two days ago.
Most Myanmar nationals live in temporary shelters set up by NGOs, he said.
The district administration could not help them formally as they are yet to be granted refugee status, he added.
A Lawngtlai based Central Young Lai Association (CYLA) president HC Vanlalruatpuia said that at least 32 people entered Lungpher village and another 22 fled to a border village in Lawngtlai district on Wednesday.
Few more people have also entered between Thursday and Friday, and their actual figure is yet to be confirmed, he said.
Home Minister Lalchamlian has recently informed the state assembly that a total of 10,229 people from Myanmar have entered Mizoram since the military coup as per the official records maintained by the state government till August 28.
“These Myanmar nationals have taken shelter in different districts. Some of them were living with their relatives while others were living in temporary shelters set up by the local people inside their villages,” Lalchamliana said in a written reply.
Some of the refugees have returned to Myanmar or go outside the state, he added.
Meanwhile, a record of state police accessed by this reporter on Friday showed that at least 9,519 Myanmar nationals are currently taking refuge in all the 11 districts of the state.
Of this, details of 304 people are yet to be confirmed, the record said.
Champhai district currently is housing the highest number at 4,551, followed by Aizawl district at 1,622 and Lawngtlai district at 1,142, it said.
Highly placed sources said that more than 20 lawmakers are among the Myanmar nationals, who took shelter in Mizoram.
The state government has also started enrolling children of Myanmar nationals in schools since August.
State education minister Lalchhandama Ralte had earlier said that around 400 children have been already enrolled in government schools and private schools.
Six Mizoram districts – Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual- share a 510 km long international border with Myanmar’s Chin state.
Most of the refugees are from Chin state, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos of Mizoram.
Earlier in March, Chief Minister Zoramthanga had urged the Centre to provide asylum to the Myanmar nationals.