Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Kuki-Chin refugees continue to flee violence in Bangladesh hills

With more batches of refugees escaping violence in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts, the number of ethnic Kuki-Chin tribals from the neighbouring country who have sought sanctuary in Mizoram has risen to nearly 300, a local leader familiar with the issue said on Saturday.
Refugees from the Kuki-Chin tribe numbering 21 crossed the border from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) late on Friday night, local refugee organising committee chairman Gospel Hmangaihzuala told PTI.
The organising committee was formed recently by village authorities and NGOs at Parva village in Lawngtlai district to deal with Kuki-Chin refugees, who have fled to Mizoram after facing alleged violence in CHT. The Kuki-Chin tribe is spread over hilly areas in Bangladesh, Mizoram as well as in Myanmar.
The new entrants were shifted to Parva village, about 21 km from the border village, by Border Security Force (BSF) soon after they crossed the border, Gospel said.
He said that a total of 294 people from Bangladesh are currently taking shelter in a school, a community hall, an Anganwadi centre and a sub-center at Parva.
Gospel, who is also Parva village council president, said that the Kuki-Chin refugees are being provided with food, clothing and other relief material by NGOs. The first batch of refugees entered Lawngtlai district on November 20, he said.
The Kuki-Chin people, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos, fled their homes following armed conflicts between Bangladesh army and an ethnic insurgent group Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA).
Despite repeated attempts, state government officials did not respond to calls seeking comments on the issue. Earlier on Tuesday, the Mizoram cabinet had expressed sympathy to the Kuki-Chin refugees and decided to provide temporary shelters, food and other basic amenities to them.
Central Young Mizoram Association (CYMA), the largest civil society organisation in the state, has also decided to provide humanitarian aids to the ethnic Mizo refugees.
Mizoram shares a 318-km stretch of international border with Bangladesh which is guarded by the BSF from the Indian side and by the Border Guards Bangladesh and Bangladesh Army on the other side.
Earlier, a Mizoram based Zo Re-Unification Organisation (ZORO), which is fighting for the re-unification of all ethnic Mizo or Zo tribes, had alleged that the Bangladesh army aligned with the Myanmar based insurgent group Arakan Army (AA) to launch joint operations against KNA.
It had also alleged that the AA abducted nine civilians after an encounter with KNA on November 16.
KNA, which is the armed wing of Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF). The KNF has been demanding a separate state for Kuki-Chin people in Bangladesh.
A KNF leader also alleged that 5 civilians, including a 17-year old girl, were also abducted by the Bangladesh army apart from those nine kidnapped by the AA.

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