Refugees and IDPs

Due to decades of discrimination by the Burmese military regime, approximately 70,000 Chin refugees have resettled in the United States. Thousands more have taken refuge in India, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Since the 2021 military coup in Burma, UNHCR estimates that upwards of 55,000 mostly Chin refugees have fled across the border to India. Of this number, at least 40,150 are in Mizoram State alone, which borders Chin State. 8,250 more are in Manipur State, while 5,092 have presented themselves for registration in New Delhi.

Myanmar UNHCR displacement overview 21 Aug 2023

The Central Young Mizo Association estimates that in Mizoram State by district, there are:

  • Siaha: 8,500
  • Hnahthial: 1,200
  • Champhai: 10,250
  • Lawngtlai: 5,950
  • Lunglei: 2,100
  • Aizawl: 10,000
  • Other: 1,750

Since the coup, UNHCR estimates that 1,020,500 people have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Chin State and neighboring Sagaing and Magway Regions:

  • Chin State: 47,200
  • Sagaing Region: 813,200
  • Magway Region: 207,300

This means that of the 1,625,000 IDPs since the coup, almost two-thirds of the total number are in the Northwest, with the potential to further fuel the refugee crisis in neighboring India.

Myanmar UNHCR displacement overview 21 Aug 2023

Mizoram is providing a strong welcome to the Chin refugees, but they need help. The Mizoram state government has registered over 30,000 refugees, begun handing out state identification cards, and enrolled 6,195 refugees as students. Mizoram NGOs and churches are leading the humanitarian response and providing refugees with aid and services.

Despite this help, refugees must contend with shoddy temporary shelters, limited food and clean water, and healthcare which only covers emergency needs. The refugees are unable to keep their livelihoods despite agricultural skills and, in the case of many Civil Disobedience Movement members, advanced skills in fields such as education.

Mizoram’s population of only 1.2 million is already supporting over 40,000 refugees; any additional flows from Burma’s Northwest will worsen the situation.

CAM advocates for:

  1. Access for international organizations and relevant UN agencies in Mizoram, especially UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, is critical but requires New Delhi to grant permission
  2. Cross-border assistance for IDPs in Northwest Burma over the Indo-Burma border
  3. Addressing the root cause of displacement by pressuring the Burmese military to cease its violence against the Christian religious minority and others in Burma

Relevant Documents-

  1. CAM Report, Chin Refugees in Mizoram State: Helping the Refugees and Supporting the Local Communities Welcoming Them, June 2023 (available here)
  2. CAM Article, Time is Running Out for India’s Balancing Act on the Myanmar Border, published by the U.S. Institute of Peace, June 2023 (available here)
  3. Joint Statement from the United States and India (available here)