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Refugees Flee to India Amid Military Airstrikes in Myanmar

Hundreds of refugees are fleeing to safety in India as the Myanmar military intensifies airstrikes in Chin state in Myanmar’s northwest, a refugee aid group told VOA on Wednesday.

At least 200 Chin refugees crossed the border last week following airstrikes by the Myanmar military on a key rebel camp on the India-Myanmar border, according to the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO).

“Within the first half of this month, the Myanmar junta carried out four airstrikes in Chin state,” Salai Mang Hre Lian, a CHRO program manager, told VOA by phone.

The organization, which has reported “a total of at least 14 airstrikes after the military coup in February 2021,” is working to protect and promote the rights of Chin people and other oppressed and marginalized communities in Myanmar.

The latest airstrikes were reportedly conducted by the Myanmar junta air force on January 10 and 11 and targeted Camp Victoria, headquarters of the Chin National Front (CNF), an ethnic resistance organization in Chin state.

“The bombing killed five CNF soldiers, including two women, and injured more than dozens of civilians around the area of Camp Victoria,” Salai Mang Hre Lian told VOA, adding that “the bombing also destroyed civilian housing and the medical facilities of Camp Victoria.”

He said hundreds of refugees from at least five villages fled across the border. “They also have grave concerns about their safety, as there is a possibility of future airstrikes and military operations from the Myanmar junta in their surrounding areas,” he said.

According to CHRO’s report, during the junta’s airstrikes last week, two bombs landed on the Indian side of the border in Mizoram state, where thousands of Chin refugees have pursued protection.

“Our main concern is the safety of Chin internally displaced persons in the Indo-Burma border areas as well as the Chin refugees in Mizoram state of India,” Zo Tum Hmung, executive director of the Chin Association of Maryland (CAM), told VOA.

CAM said in a statement to VOA that “at least one bomb landed on Indian soil and damaged the truck of a villager from Farkawn Village in Mizoram State, India.” The organization identified “five Myanmar military fighter jets, three Yak-130s and two MIG 29s.”

“India should condemn the Myanmar military fighters [for] dropping a bomb on India soil,” Zo Tum Hmung said.

Global watchdog Fortify Rights also called on India to prevent Myanmar junta fighter jets from accessing its airspace.

“New Delhi shouldn’t tolerate the junta’s incursions on its airspace, and Indian authorities should do everything in their power to ensure the security of civilians and border areas,” Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights, said last week.

So far, there have been no responses from New Delhi or Mizoram regarding the airstrikes.

CHRO said more than 52,000 Chin civilians have fled to India since the military coup last year. Around 44,000 live in Mizoram, and about 8,000 are in New Delhi.

Source: Voice of America