Since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, over 10,000 of its citizens are said to have crossed the border into India’s Northeast. Most of them have sought refuge in the adjoining states of Mizoram and Manipur, which share a 908-kilometer border with Myanmar.
The majority of those displaced by the fighting between the Tatmadaw and the anti-junta forces are said to be staying in Mizoram’s border districts. The Chief Minister of Myanmar’s Chin state, Salai Lian Luai, and 23 other legislators from the National League for Democracy have also taken shelter in Mizoram. Close to a hundred refugees have returned to their country after staying for a couple of months in Mizoram.
In Manipur, the Myanmar nationals have settled in the contiguous districts of Chandel and Churachandpur.
The refugees are being assisted by NGOs and local residents to settle down in both the states. Such support is more organized in Mizoram, with the Myanmar Refugee Relief Committee being formed to offer aid and counseling to the refugees.
According to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, around 230,000 people have been displaced by violence and fighting in Myanmar, with the Karen and Kayah states being the worst-affected. Thousands of people have also fled their homes in Kachin, Chin and Shan States and Sagaing, Magwe and Bago regions.
The UN team in Myanmar has appealed to all countries in the region to offer refuge and protection to those fleeing the violence.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, the Indian government was disinclined to host those fleeing from Myanmar. It instructed the governments of Mizoram and Manipur to discourage the displaced from settling down in the country. Despite the directive, however, both the state governments have been offering assistance to those who have fled into India.
In the months since, India has condemned the military’s crackdown on civilians in Myanmar and has urged the Tatmadaw to exercise maximum restraint and release detained leaders. But the Tatmadaw’s repression continues as does the flow of people into India’s Northeast.