Conflicts & War

The Indian village sheltering more refugees than residents

By Sangzuala Hmar

New Ngharchhip, India, Oct 17.- People in New Ngharchhip, a small Hnahthial district village nestled on a hilltop overlooking the Chin Hills along the India-Myanmar border, have opened their homes to more than 460 Myanmar citizens, who make up more than the hamlet’s current population.

“When they arrived, we went house to house and asked people if they could give food, shelter. Many responded to the request,” said Lalhmingtluanga, president of the village council.

Refugees started pouring in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram in March after Myanmar’s military regime started a crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

“Just across River Tiau on the adjacent side of our village there are more than six Chin villages. People from these villages have sought refuge here since March. In September, we had to shelter more than 450 refugees,” Lalhmingtluanga added.

New Ngharchhip has about 100 households and a population of 450. Many inhabitants have temporarily settled in bigger towns and cities.

“It was a hectic job, we had to build them a shelter and provide them with food and other daily necessities. We are such a small village and the majority of the population depended on government aid so sheltering these many refugees has become a big load for us,” the village council’s president said.

Although the villagers shared what little they had, it remains to be seen how for long they will be able to support the refugees.

“Come what may, we will share what we have, turning away people in need is not our tradition,” Lalhmingmawii, a resident of New Ngharchhip, said.

Like many in the village, Lalhmingmawii has been helping the refugees in daily chores.

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