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SOURCE: ANI

The Mizoram government is in favour of granting refugee status to 30,000 Myanmar nationals, who are currently staying in different parts of the state following a military coup in their country in February last year, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana has told ANI. Mizoram has been feeding more than 30,000 Myanmar nationals for the last 20 months, the minister said.

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Lalchamliana said the refugees are currently taking shelter at different locations in Mizoram and many NGOs and organisations in the state have demanded giving refugee status for them. “We would like to give them refugee status so that their basic needs could be taken care of. Our government might consider writing to the Centre seeking refugee status for these Myanmar nationals.

There is a demand from the public, as well as from some NGOs, to bestow refugee status on them. However, as far as the state Home department is concerned, we have not made any such appeal as yet,” the Mizoram Home minister said. On extending support and help to the Myanmar refugees in Mizoram, Lalchamliana said his government has already given Rs 100 lakh to them. “The remaining help should come from churches, NGOs and volunteer organisations.

The NGOs, particularly the central Young Mizo Association (YMA), churches, and some voluntary organizations have extended their support to these Myanmar nationals who are taking shelter in Mizoram and helping them,” Lalchamliana said. In September this year, the Aizawl district administration issued an order and instructed Myanmar nationals who are currently taking shelter in the state, not to purchase land and run businesses without prior permission from the state government.

“They are refugees, foreigners. So they should not be allowed to do business or purchase land in Mizoram or any other states in the North Eastern region. But at the same time, they are human beings, so we have to help them on a humanitarian basis,” the Mizoram Home Minister said. On the other hand, more than 6,000 children of Myanmar nationality taking shelter in Mizoram are currently enrolled in various schools in the state. “Those who would like to continue their education in Mizoram, our government has allowed them to do this. Some of them appear in the HSLC (Class 10) examination also,” the Mizoram Home Minister said. Refuting the allegations of the involvement of some Myanmar nationals in drugs, and arms smuggling activities in the state, the Mizoram Home Minister said that these allegations are only rumours.

“We have not received any information from police or other sources that refugees are involved in this kind of activity. Many drug peddlers or drug dealers arrested in the state are either local ones or people from Assam (Karimganj district particularly). They may be originally from Myanmar, but I am talking about the refugees who stay in Mizoram. No refugees have been caught or apprehended in dealing with drugs,” Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said. Six districts of Mizoram Champhai, Siaha, Lawngtlai, Serchhip, Hnahthial and Saitual share a 510 km long porous border with Myanmar.