Repatriation of refugees to Myanmar deferred: Official

Aizawl, Jun 15 (PTI) Southern Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district administration Saturday deferred the proposed repatriation of over 200 refugees to Myanmar on ‘humanitarian ground’, an official said.
A team of officials, policemen, NGO leaders and Assam Rifles authorities went to Hmawngbuchhuah village and intended to repatriate the refugees numbering 219 people belonging to 54 families to Myanmar.
The repatriation process was postponed due to rainfall as also fresh identification process was being undertaken during the visit, the official said.
“We would have to make another arrangement at another time to push them back,” the official said, adding that using force would not be advisable as all of them were poor people and not involved in any illegal activities.
Over 1,700 refugees from Paletwa and surrounding villages in Myanmar fled the country during the later part of November in 2017, entered Mizoram and took shelter in four villages in Lawngtlai district along the Myanmar border areas due to armed conflict between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army (AA) militants.
While majority of the refugees have returned to their homeland after the Myanmar Army sanitized the area, some of them refused to go back and settled down by constructing houses and taking up livelihood.
The remaining refugees claimed that though their villages were now peaceful but it would be difficult for them to earn livelihood.
The refugees mainly belonged to the Rakhine community and the local populace called them ‘Zakhai’.