By Sangzuala Hmar and Grace Jajo
Aizawl/Imphal, India, May 19 (EFE).- The number of Myanmar citizens fleeing a military crackdown in their homeland and seeking refuge in India has risen to over 4,000, two nonprofits said on Wednesday.
Chin Refugee Committee, a New Delhi-based organization, warned of the growing exodus of refugees as military repression against pro-democracy activists continues across Myanmar, including in Mindat, a city in Chin state, which borders India.
“From our data the number (of refugees) may be a little over 4,000,” MC Kin Lian, secretary of the monitoring group, told EFE.
The Mizoram-based Zo Reunification Organisation (ZORO) corroborated the figure even as it maintained that it was difficult to track the number of refugees crossing over to the Indian side in the absence of a proper mechanism.
“The figure will be around 3,500. Not more than 4000,” said L Ramdinliana Renthlei, the president of the group.
The organization, which represents the Zo indigenous people living in India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, claimed that it has been tracking the influx since March when the first batch of Myanmarese refugees crossed into Mizoram.
A military coup on Feb.1 that ousted an elected government has triggered widespread unrest in Myanmar that shares nearly 1,700 km (some 1,000 miles) land border with India.
Thousands of citizens have fled the restive Southeast Asian country and taken shelter in border villages on the Indian side.
While the northeastern state of Mizoram has become the main destination of the refugees, some of them have also sneaked into Moreh, a town located on the India–Myanmar border in the Tengnoupal district of the neighboring Manipur region.
A student activist involved in the humanitarian assistance for the refugees in Moreh told EFE that the number fluctuated depending on the situation on the Myanmar side.
“At present there are about 650 Myanmar refugees in and around Moreh, Hoilenphai and Shijang. We are anticipating the figure to escalate again,” the activist said, requesting anonymity.
Lian said over 100 Myanmar citizens, who managed to reach New Delhi, were awaiting asylum seeker status by the United Nation High Commission for Refugees.
“The UNHCR had recently accepted these Myanmar nationals as asylum seekers,” Lian said.
Myanmar military rulers have allegedly used brutal force to quell pro-democracy protests since the army overthrew the civilian government and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and several lawmakers.
The army seized power on Feb.1 after Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won the polls held in November.
The military alleged the civilian government of committing fraud in a ballot swept by the NLD. EFE