Tragic death exposes humanitarian crisis in refugee camps in the North East state
Bangladesh refugees in Mizoram (file photo)
Aizawl: A 17-year-old girl from Bangladesh, who fled her country’s military offensive and sought refugee in southern Mizoram, died of malaria on Saturday (July 22).
N K Pardenmawi, belonging to the Kuki-Chin community, died around 7:00am due to the mosquito-borne disease at a refugee camp at Parva village in the southernmost tip of Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district bordering Bangladesh.
Pardenmawi’s untimely demise sheds light on the dire conditions prevailing in Malaria-infested refugee camps that have been sheltering hundreds of Bangladesh refugees since last year.
The leaders of the refugee camps expressed concerns about the lack of medicines and malarial protective instrements in the area. Not only medicines but also they are facing shortage of food. Many people are currently living in refugee camps without humanitarian assistance.
One of the members of refugee committee said, “Surviving day by day has become an arduous battle, with no aid coming from humanitarian organisations. Amidst the food crisis, we are now plagued by malaria and dengue, posing a grave threat to our lives in these backward regions. Our dear one’s life was lost due to the scarcity of medication. We implore you, brothers and sisters, for your compassionate help.”
In the last couple of years, Mizoram has seen an influx of refugees from Myanmar (with which it shares a 510-km border), Bangladesh (across a 318-km border) and, recently, from Manipur (situated to its northeast across a 95-km boundary), raising concerns about humanitarian crisis that tiny state like Mizoram alone cannot handle.
India, being a non signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, has been ignoring the refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh. In fact, the Indian government had instructed Mizoram to push back Myanmar refugees, which Mizoram chief minister staunchly refused, asserting that they are of the same ethnic kin as the Mizos and deserve humanitarian assistance.
As for internally displaced persons from Manipur, who are over 10k in numbers, Mizoram government has sought Rs 10 crore from the central government for their assistance which remains unanswered till date.
As the refugee and IDP populations grow, the burden of support mainly falls on donations from the public and the limited funds provided by the state government, exacerbating the already dire situation.