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Burmese Military Blocks Supply Routes to 50,000 Chin Refugees

08/11/2021 Myanmar (International Christian Concern) – Ever since the military coup on February 1st of this year that deposed Myanmar’s democratically elected government and resulted in the military junta in power, infighting has fractured the country. The fighting is especially severe in the northwestern states, where Myanmar’s religious minorities, including most Christians, are concentrated.  Local pro-democracy militant groups struggle with the Burmese army for control in the region.

Since the fighting resumed on July 21st, the military has cut all supplies to the town of Mindat in Myanmar’s Chin state. This move has left the 50,000 refugees who fled there to escape the infighting with just two weeks’ food supply. According to Radio Free Asia, junta forces blocked all entrances and exits to the town and shut down supply routes elsewhere in Chin state.

A refugee in Mindat told Radio Free Asia, “All the roads have been blocked…The authorities stop, arrest or interrogate all the young men entering the town, and confiscate their mobile phones. Nobody dares to enter.

The military junta has also prevented the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) from delivering aid that would have helped around 5,000 of these refugees. UNHCR was forced to leave truckloads of supplies at a local monastery, and the military is refusing to deliver them to the refugees.

The CDF, a civilian group dedicated to fighting the military and protecting Chin state, keeps records of refugees displaced in the conflict. However, it estimates that in Mindat, there are many more than it has the capacity to confirm.

According to the United Nations and aid groups, conflict in Myanmar’s remote border regions has displaced an estimated 230,000 residents since the junta coup. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a Norwegian NGO, they join more than 500,000 refugees from decades of conflict between the military and ethnic armies who were already counted as IDPs at the end of 2020.

As the fighting continues, it is becoming more and more difficult for aid organizations to reach these internally displaced people with much-needed supplies.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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