By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
NEW DELHI (Worthy News) - Thousands of Christian men, women, and children have entered northeast India to escape deadly violence in neighboring Myanmar, Christian leaders, and aid workers say.
In comments shared with Worthy News, Christian officials said the “military regime” in Myanmar, also known as Burma, killed “thousands of innocent civilians.”
Troops “tortured the people, burnt their houses, bombed their villages, raped their women and children,” they added.
The military robbed people “of their livelihoods and killed thousands of innocent civilians…” since the military coup began in February 2021, the Christians stressed.
Christian aid group Barnabas Fund told Worthy News that “Many of the victims are our fellow Christians from Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. Thousands have fled their homeland into nearby countries.”
The group noted that “at least 5,540 men, women, and children, from infants to elderly, have sought shelter in one particular district of mainly Christian Mizoram state in India.” The area borders mainly Christian Chin State in Myanmar.
Having crossed the river that forms the international border, the Myanmar Christians arrived “tired, hungry, homeless and penniless,” said Indian Christian leaders.
While Indian believers built tin-roof houses for Christian refugees, funds are needed to “build more of these robust shelters before the monsoon rains start,” Barnabas Fund said.
“Local Indian Christians from 50 villages welcomed the refugees with open arms, and did their best to provide for their needs. Church members from all over the district donated clothes, bedding, utensils, and other household items, and money to help the believers. Many took refugees into their own homes,” the group observed.
Other refugees were accommodated in temporary shelters of bamboo and plastic sheeting, aid workers explained. “But these will be inadequate during the heavy monsoon rains in May-September”, Barnabas Fund warned. “Volunteers from the local churches are willing and able to help the refugees build more robust shelters, but they cannot afford the wood, nails and metal roofing sheets needed.”
Local resources “are now almost exhausted. Food is running short, causing sickness amongst people who have not been properly nourished for months,” Barnabas Fund said
“For some villages, the nearest water source in this mountainous area may be more than 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) away. Having so many extra families is putting pressure on local water supplies, which scarcely provided enough for the local people themselves in the dry season,” the charity cautioned.
“Our project partners would like to pipe water to two villages where the nearest water source is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away and provide water storage facilities for the refugees,” Barnabas Fund added.
Christians said they also want to provide primary-level teaching for the refugee children, otherwise they “ruin their whole lives” by missing out on basic education.
Yet they complained that life is difficult as the Christian “Myanmar refugees struggle to get work in India.”
However, Barnabas Fund said it asked supporters to help as even “a gift of 50 chicks and two sacks of chicken food would enable a family to set up their own small business.”
Myanmar’s military has come under world pressure to improve human rights amid a rising death toll after the coup ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
At least 1,500 people died in coup-related violence and thousands, including many Christians, were displaced in the Buddhist-majority nation, rights groups say.