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Mizoram compassion: Nurturing refugees and IDPs

Top Mizoram singer Zoramchhani performs during Charity Concert for Manipur at Vanapa Hall

Aizawl: As the central government’s support remains conspicuously absent, Mizoram’s financially strained administration has taken a decisive step to provide essential aid to the numerous internally displaced individuals from Manipur who have sought refuge in the state. The disbursement will commence from the coming week, an official said.

H Lalengmawia, the State Home Commissioner, told Zoram Chronicle on Sunday that the Mizoram government has been apprised of the expenditures already borne by deputy commissioners across all districts. In an effort to alleviate the plight of the internally displaced people (IDPs), the allocated funds are set to be channeled through these administrative heads.

In a move that underscores Mizoram’s commitment to this cause, the State Finance Department has given the green light for Rs 5 crore to be designated as humanitarian aid for the IDPs. Subsequently, the requisites of administrative endorsement and financial clearance have been diligently obtained from the state’s governing bodies.

Lalengmawia said, “Equitable distribution of funds shall be based on the district’s IDP population and the incumbent expenditures borne by the district administration.” This compassionate approach echoes Mizoram’s determination to ensure the efficient utilization of allocated resources.

Regrettably, the central government is yet to sanction Rs 10 crore sought by state Chief Minister Zoramthanga on May 23 for humanitarian assistance to the IDPs of Manipur. Numerous appeals to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla have not yielded the anticipated response, leaving these affected communities in a state of limbo.

Presently, a staggering 12,880 IDPs from Manipur have found refuge across Mizoram’s 11 districts. Among them, 9,899 individuals have sought solace with relatives, friends, or within rented accommodations, while 2,981 souls have been accommodated within 38 relief camps.

The distribution of the displaced population showcases Aizawl district as the primary host to 4,818 IDPs. The Kolasib district, bordering Assam, follows closely with 4,443 individuals, while the Saitual district, bordering Manipur, shelters 2,951 persons. In stark contrast, south Mizoram’s Hnahthial district accommodates a mere eight persons.

With meagre support from district administrations and contributions from civil society groups, religious institutions, and compassionate individuals, the IDPs from Manipur have been grappling with the challenges of subsistence. Their exodus from the turmoil-stricken neighboring state in early May has underscored the dire need for the continued support of benevolent forces.

The serene expanse of Mizoram has been grappling with an ongoing refugee crisis that has unfolded following the tumultuous events in neighboring Myanmar. Since the military coup that sent shockwaves through Myanmar in February 2021, the state has become a sanctuary for thousands of displaced Chin people. Additionally, a contingent of Chin-Kuki refugees from Bangladesh has sought refuge within the borders of this northeastern Indian state.

India’s stance as a non-signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its subsequent 1967 Protocol has cast a shadow over its response to the humanitarian turmoil unfurling in Mizoram. As a result, the mantle of responsibility for addressing this crisis has largely fallen upon the state government and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

An official from the Mizoram government, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared insights, stating that there exists a pressing need for the central government to engage proactively in addressing the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Mizoram. The official emphasized that these displaced individuals are, in fact, Indian citizens, which should warrant swift intervention on their behalf.

In the midst of its serene landscapes, Mizoram finds itself at the intersection of compassion and crisis, exemplifying its commitment to humanity in the face of adversity. As the tiny state grapples with an ongoing refugee turmoil, its efforts to shelter and support thousands of displaced Chin people from Myanmar, alongside Chin-Kuki refugees from Bangladesh, and now IDPs from Manipur, highlight both the resilience of its people and the urgency of the situation. 

Despite the absence of international agreements guiding refugee protection, Mizoram’s state government and non-governmental organizations have taken up the mantle of responsibility, bridging the gap where central government intervention falls short. In this unfolding narrative, the bonds of shared citizenship and the call for a collective response form the underpinning of Mizoram’s determined journey through the present crisis.

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Zoram Chronicle