India has repatriated at least 300,000 Burmese refugees who had crossed the border fleeing fighting between Myanmar’s army and rebels, forcing them to seek shelter in makeshift tents near the border, refugees and aid workers said.
In July and August, more than 1,000 residents of Tamu town in the Sagaing region of northern Myanmar fled to the Indian state of Manipur to escape hostilities, only to be driven back by Indian soldiers, sources said.
Hundreds of refugees living in tents in Indian villages near the border are facing food and supply shortages, a refugee from Tam told Radio Free Asia.
Indian troops drove the Burmese refugees out of their villages after two or three days, forcing them to seek asylum near the Burmese side of the border, he said.
“We currently need rain tarps to build tents and many other supplies,” he said.
Burmese and Indian authorities. At the same time, a key border crossing in the region was closed.
In total, around 5,000 Burmese refugees from the town of Tam have sought asylum in Manipur due to the fighting, said Sarai Dohal, founder of India Support Myanmar, which helps Burmese refugees in India.
They are among some 50,000 Myanmar citizens who have fled to India since the military overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup.
Explosions forced villagers to flee
On 18 August, junta forces conducted a nighttime aerial bombardment of the village of Bokkan in the town of Tam, causing more than 500 residents and others from nearby communities to flee to neighboring Manipur state.
Similarly, more than 700 residents from the small town of Kampat, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) southeast of the border in Manipur, crossed into India on July 22 as a result of fighting between junta forces and resistance fighters, The town has 2,000 households. .
Authorities in Manipur have been collecting biometric data on refugees from Myanmar, raising concerns that the data could be shared with the military junta, Radio Free Asia to report early this month.
Thang Sei Official Myanmar Refugee Committee Kabbah Valley, which helps Burmese refugees, told Radio Free Asia that more than half of the refugees returned to Burma a few days after the fighting in Tamu stopped.
Refugees who have sought refuge at the border say they have gone to the town of Kale in Sagaing and other villages, but it remains impossible for refugees to return to their homes there as junta troops continue to clear the Tamu area.
Neither the Indian embassy in Yangon nor Myanmar’s embassy in New Delhi, India, responded to RFA’s requests for comment on the refugee issue.
Sarai Dohal said the Indian government should reconsider its decision to deport Myanmar refugees.
“When the Burmese people want good relations between Burma and India, this behavior by India directly destroys our hope for the future,” he said. “That’s why Indian officials need to review the way they handle Myanmar.”
Burmese translation for RFA by Myo Min Aung. Edited by Roseanne Geran and Malcolm Foster.