Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla today said his government had sought the Centre's help in providing relief to the 1,440 Myanmarese nationals who had taken shelter in the north-eastern state. The Myanmarese people had crossed over to Mizoram in November last year, following clashes between the Myanmar Army and the Arakan Army (AA) militants in the Chin state of that country. Thanhawla said he had appealed to the Centre to provide assistance to the refugees, staying in three relief camps in southern Mizoram's Lawngtlai district since November 25. He added that his government was making efforts to ensure that all the refugees returned to Myanmar. Officials, however, said the Myanmarese nationals were refusing to return to their respective villages even after the Myanmar Army declared that peace was restored and all the AA rebels were flushed out of their camps. While some of them were afraid of going back apprehending that a violent confrontation might erupt anytime between the government forces and militants, many preferred to settle down in Mizoram, they added. The refugees, mostly Buddhists and Christians, were residents of Paletwa and surrounding villages in Myanmar. After fleeing from home, they took shelter in Lawngtlai district's Laitlang, Zochachhuah, Hmangbuchhuah and Dumzautlang villages. After stray bullets from Myanmar hit a house in Laitlang just ahead of Christmas, the refugees staying there were shifted to the other three villages, an official said. All the refugees would be repatriated, officials in the Lawngtlai district administration said, adding that they did not want to use force on them on humanitarian grounds.
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