Though Mizoram government had earlier rejected Centre’s directive to deport Myanmar refugees evading the Junta following military coup on February 1, Chief Minister Zoramthanga has now sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s intervention to tackle the “humanitarian crisis” of the refugees.
The Union government had asked the four states sharing border with Myanmar — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram — to not provide shelter to refugees and deport them as India isn’t party of the UN Refugee Convention 1951 and its subsequent protocol 1967. All the states complied but Mizoram that currently provided shelter to over 10,000 Myanmar nationals including 20 MPs and a Chief Minister in different places mostly in districts sharing borders with Myanmar.
Zoramthanga had sought assistance during a meeting with PM Modi on July 16 with Chief Ministers of Northeastern states to talk about the Covid-19 situation. He said the influx of the coup-hit Myanmar nationals amid the second wave of the pandemic has strained the state’s financial condition.
“After the military junta overthrew the democratically-elected government of Myanmar, thousands of Mizos who lived in that country crossed over and sought refuge and shelter in Mizoram. Mizos across the border in Myanmar are our brethren with whom we share close cultural and family ties, with many having close family connections. Hence, it was not possible for Mizoram to refuse shelter to our own brethren who fled Myanmar fearing for their lives. Soon after this, the second wave of the pandemic manifested and Mizoram not only had to fight the pandemic with its limited resources but also had to look after the refugees from Myanmar and provide them food, shelter and medicines. This has strained the financial resources of the state,” the CM told Modi in the meeting as quoted by Deccan Herald.
The CM had earlier said Mizoram can not turn “a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in their backyard”.
Ethnic communities in Mizoram and some parts of Myanmar have close ethnic ties, with extended families often strung across both sides of the border.
Zoramthanga also sought the PM’s assistance to tackle the swine fever incidents which led to the death of thousands of pigs causing a huge loss to livestock farmers in the state.