Chin State still not “safe” for Christians despite UN claims

Despite the recent UNHCR statement that “the conditions that would normally produce refugees no longer exist” in Chin State, Western Myanmar, the mainly Christian Chin people continue to face violent persecution at the hands of the Myanmar Army and a daily risk of injury or death from landmines.

Barnabas contacts report that fighting between the Myanmar Army and Muslim insurgents in Chin State has caused Christians to flee their villages in recent months. Displaced villagers are now suffering hardship and hunger in IDP camps where food and supplies are scarce.

According to local witnesses, the “Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army” (ARSA), a Saudi Arabian-funded Muslim insurgent militia, is deliberately driving Chin people from their land to facilitate unimpeded access between the front line of their conflict with the Myanmar Army and their bases in Rakhine State and Bangladesh.

Several civilian landmine deaths and injuries were also reported. A Christian women aged 28 was killed in September when she stepped on a landmine while gathering vegetables, and another 18-year-old woman was injured in the blast. In October a 35-year-old father of six was severely injured when he stepped on a mine in his village. At the time of writing, he is still undergoing treatment in hospital.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recently announced that it is revoking refugee status of Chin people from Myanmar, stating that is safe for them to return.

The Chin people are a mainly-Christian ethnic minority from western Myanmar who have been violently persecuted by the military and discriminated against because of their ethnicity and religion. Hundreds of thousands of Chin have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

Barnabas Fund,