In Manipur's Moreh town, surging number of refugees from Myanmar poses humanitarian crisis

Sunzu Bachaspatimayum
·3-min read

Manipur is currently in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with many refugees from Myanmar illegally crossing the border with India to reach the town of Moreh.

Although the state government has issued directives against the setting up refugee camps, local communities in Moreh are clandestinely providing shelter to refugees. However, the provision of food and basic amenities remains a major worry.

Speaking to this reporter, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh said, "The Union home ministry has said that humanitarian help has to be extended, and we are doing so. But we are awaiting advice from the ministry on the future course of action."

Myanmar refugees taking shelter at Moreh town in Manipur. Firstpost
Myanmar refugees taking shelter at Moreh town in Manipur. Firstpost

Myanmar refugees taking shelter at Moreh town in Manipur. Sunzu Bachaspatimayum

Singh, however, did not provide a specific figure for the number of Myanmar nationals who have entered Manipur after the military coup in the country.

Ngamkholal Haokip, Secretary in-charge of Relief of the Kuki Students' Organization (KSO, GHQ), noted that many refugees are relatives of locals in Moreh. Haokip said that a system to handle the humanitarian crisis is the need of the hour.

"It is an open secret that an influx is taking place. The government of Manipur is refusing to facilitate refugees from Myanmar, and is also preventing local groups and civil societies from setting up shelter camps. Thus, refugees are being sheltered in people's homes, community halls and village offices in Moreh," he said.

Asked about whether her NGO has provided assistance to the refugees, she said, "It is complicated to intervene as an NGO in this matter. Given the Central government's stand on the issue and its policy on NGOs, even if we want to, we cannot help officially. Individually, we are lending our helping hands and even donating for their cause."

On 1 February, Myanmar's military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's government less than three months after she won a landslide victory in a general election. Till 11 April, 706 protesters and bystanders have been verified as killed in the post-coup crackdown, The Associated Press has quoted the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners as saying.

The government of Mizoram has officially acknowledged that more than a thousand people from Myanmar, mostly from the Saigang and Kachin states, have entered Mizoram after the coup. However, official data on the number of refugees in Manipur has not yet made public.

Speaking to this reporter, an activist of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front said, "India is the biggest democratic state in the world, and we look up to it as we aspire for democracy in Myanmar. India has always been our hope in our fight against the military for the cause of democracy. It had supported our leaders and our movement in the past. But this time, India has disappointed us."

Reacting to India's condemnation of the crackdown, issued on 1 April, the activist said, "Although we welcome India's condemnation, we expect more from India in terms of supporting the movement for democracy."

Also See: Myanmar coup: Rising numbers of refugees, spiralling violence present major humanitarian crisis for India

Myanmar youth battle internet shutdown with Molotov, an explosive underground newsletter

Myanmar coup: Civil servants, policemen taking refuge in Mizoram say ready to return and stand with 'our people'

Read more on India by Firstpost.