Mizoram CM urges PM to provide humanitarian aid to Myanmar refugees
Aizawl, Sep. 16 (IANS): Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga once again urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide humanitarian assistance to Myanmar nationals as the bordering northeastern state is witnessing a fresh influx of refugees from the military coup hit neighbouring country after a renewed clash between the Army and the pro-democratic forces, officials said on Thursday.
According to officials, around 11,500 Myanmarese nationals have taken refuge in 11 districts of Mizoram, whose six districts share unfenced borders with the neighbouring country, since the military coup there on February 1.
Mizoram’s lone Lok Sabha member C Lalrosanga met Union Home Secretary (Border Management) Sanjeeva Kumar and Additional Home Secretary (North-East) Piyush Goyal in Delhi on Wednesday and requested them to provide necessary assistance including money to the Myanmar nationals, who are taking shelter in the bordering state.
Mizoram planning board Vice Chairman H Rammawi said that the chief minister on Wednesday in a reminder letter to the prime minister over the predicament of the Myanmar nationals has urged him to provide all humanitarian help to the men, women and children sheltered in the state since March.
Rammawi, who is closely dealing with Myanmar refugee affairs, said that besides the Chief Minister’s letters to the Prime Minister, high-level delegations led by state MPs since March met the Vice-President and other central ministers and officials seeking asylum and humanitarian aid for the Myanmar nationals.
“The central government has yet to respond positively and ignore the repeated requests and even remained silent on the issue for almost seven months now,” he said.
Rammawi said that the chief minister besides writing letters, also over phone had talked to the Prime Minister and Union Home minister Amit Shah on a number of occasions requesting them to extend humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar refugees.
He said that he has been in constant touch with the External Affairs and Home ministry and the people of Mizoram are deeply disappointed over the Centre’s silence and apathetic attitude towards the unprecedented sufferings of the hapless and distressed people from Myanmar, who fled their country for their survival.
He said that during the state’s delegations meeting with the ministers and officials of the MHA and MEA requested them to review the country’s foreign policy towards Myanmar and to provide assistance to the Myanmar nationals, but to no avail yet.
According to Rammawi, the state is now reeling under a severe financial crisis and limited infrastructure of health and other services and non availability of required manpower due to the Covid-19 pandemic has already crippled the state’s overall situation.
When the state government, all officials, NGOs, churches and all political parties are battling against the pandemic in unity, the situation further turned critical due to the influx of refugees from the trouble torn Myanmar, he pointed out.
“As a generous state and the human being of the people of the state can’t ignore the sufferings and helpless conditions 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 to save their lives,” the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) leader said, adding that the community leaders and NGOs are providing shelter and food to the Myanmar people amid the pandemic.
He said that more people expected to come to Mizoram as the renewed clash between civilians and the Myanmar army after a Burmese government in exile on Sep. 7 called for a nationwide uprising to defeat the military junta.
Earlier, Mizoram Lok Sabha member C Lalrosanga and Rajya Sabha member K Vanlalvena had also raised the Myanmar refugees issue in the parliament.
As per the MHA advisory, the state governments and UT administrations have no power to grant “refugee” status to any foreigner, and India is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.