AIZAWL, Sept 11 (Newmai): Over 200 Myanmar refugees fleeing arm conflict between Myanmar Army and Arakan Army (AA) militants are still languishing in south Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district.
Mizoram Home department officials said that the refugees entered Mizoram on November 25 last year following the crackdown launched by Myanmar Army against Arakan Army militants after 11 Myanmar Army personnel were gunned down by the militants in an ambush near the Kaladan river.
Initially the refugees numbering about 1,750 entered Lawngtlai district and were taking refuge at makeshift camps in four villages – Zochachhuah, Laitlang, Dumzautlang and Hmawngbuchhuah, the officials said.
The refugees, mostly Buddhists and Christians, were from Paletwa and neighbouring villages in Myanmar’s Arakan (Rakhine) state.
Though the Myanmar government has asked them to return to their respective villages citing that the arm conflict between Myanmar and Army and AA militants had subsided, about 238 people including 69 children from 60 families are still in Mizoram and were reluctant to return to their villages citing that the arm conflict may happen again anytime, the officials further said.
In January and February, majority of the refugees had returned to Myanmar on their own while the remaining refugees are currently taking refuge at Hmawngbuchhuah village in the Bumtlang subdivision and are supporting themselves as the Mizoram government has stopped giving food and other relief aids after the Myanmar government declared that their villages in Myanmar are safe to live now.
Mizoram police also said that one of the main reasons that made the refugees reluctant to return to their villages was due to fear of landmine being planted at their areas. The refugees also refused to return to their native places because of the fear of reprisal as the arm conflict between Myanmar Army and AA militants may get revived anytime, they said.
Mizoram shares an international boundary of 502.19 km with Myanmar. So far the state has witnessed four batches of an influx of refugees from Myanmar in two years.