Mizoram is worried and disappointed with the Centre’s apathy towards the plight and suffering of the innocent people from Myanmar, who have taken shelter in the state following the coup in the neighbouring country.

The state planning board vice chairman H. Rammawi, who is closely dealing with refugee affairs, said that Chief Minister Zoramthanga and state chief secretary have written to the Centre several times seeking humanitarian aid for the Myanmar nationals.

However, the Centre has ignored the appeals and remained silent on the Myanmar refugees, he said.

He said that he along with two MPs from the state had met with Union Ministers and officials of the Home Ministry several times between March and April.

They also met officials of MEA when the Centre passed the ball of refugee issue to the Ministry asking them to review the Country’s foreign policy towards Myanmar and to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals, but to no avail, he said.

“During our meeting with officials of the MEA, they were convinced with the situation and the crisis faced by both the people of Mizoram and the Myanmar people. They also told us that the state deserves to receive assistance from the Centre. But the Cente remained inactive and not a single penny has been sanctioned in aid of the Myanmar refugee till now,” the Mizo National Front leader said.

According to Rammawi, the state is now reeling under a financial crisis and also health infrastructure and manpower crunch due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which had already crippled the state’s economy.

While the state government, NGOs, churches and all parties are collectively constantly fighting against the pandemic, the state is witnessing another crisis of refugees influx from Myanmar, he said.

“We can’t ignore the plight of the Myanmar nationals with whom we share ethnic ties and common ancestry. We can’t ask them to return as they came here to take shelter for fear of their lives,” Rammawi said.

According to H. Rammawi, the chief minister on Wednesday sent a reminder to the Prime Minister over the plight of the Myanmar nationals, who fled their countries for fear of their lives and sought humanitarian assistance for them.

“The Chief Ministers has written several times to the Centre and sent delegations since March seeking asylum and humanitarian aid for the Myanmar nationals, who crossed over to Mizoram due to humanitarian crisis triggered by a sudden political turnover.  But the Centre ignore the appeal and remained silent on the issue almost 7 months now,” he said.

Apart from official letters, the Chief Minister also communicated to the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the phone quite a number of times requesting them to extend humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar nationals, who took refuge in the state, he said.

Mizoram Lok Sabha member C. Lalrosanga and Rajya Sabha member K. Vanlalvena had also raised the Myanmar refugees issue in the parliament, he said.

Rammawi is of the opinion that the Centre should provide asylum to and help the Myanmar nationals even though India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

According to the leader, over 20,000 people from Myanmar have already crossed over to Mizoram after the military coup in the neighbouring country in February.

The exact figure is difficult to maintain as many refugees who are living with their families left unrecorded, he said.

He said that the refugee will continue to trickle in because of the renewed clash between civilians and the Myanmar army after a Burmese government in exile called for a nationwide uprising to overthrow the military junta on September 7.

He expressed hope that the Government of India regulates the entry of Myanmar nationals as blocking them or pushing them back by Assam Rifles, who guarded the Indo-Myanmar border, would also result in a violent clash with the local people.

State home minister Lalchamliana had said on Tuesday that over 1,800 more people from Myanmar have entered some border districts, including Champhai, Hnahthial and Lawngtlai after September 7.

Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha member C. Lalrosanga also on Wednesday called on Home Secretary (Border Management) Sanjeeva Kumar and Additional Home Secretary (North East) Piyush Goyal in Delhi and urged them to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals, who are taking shelter in Mizoram.

Mizoram shares a 510 km long international boundary with Myanmar.

Most of the Myanmar nationals, who entered the state since February end, are from the Chin state, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos.

While many live in relief camps or temporary shelters set up by villagers, others are accommodated by their relatives.

Mizoram is already home to thousands of Chin communities of Myanmar, who migrated to the state since the late 1980s fleeing the military junta in the neighbouring country.

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