In an effort to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government has imposed a 24-day lockdown on the whole of the country since March 24, leaving Chin migrants and refugees without jobs or food.
Salai Cung Dawt, who works with the Chin Human Rights Organization, said that members of the Chin community in India,who typically work in factories and as day and night laborers, arenow struggling for their survival under the new restrictions, which have left them unemployed.
“They cannot afford to pay their rent on their homes or pay for their daily food,” he said. “The lockdown has just started. Our Chin refugees are struggling for their survival. They cannot buy much food. They are worried that the landlords will kick them out if they cannot afford to pay their rent.”
Many of those affected were hopeful that they would be resettled to a third country, a possibility that has now been postponed indefinitely. Salai Cung Dawt said that Australian officials had already conducted interviews in early March with those who had applied for permission to move to the country, and they had expected to receive their visas by the end of March.
“The process has already closed because of this coronavirus. We are worried about what will happen next,” he explained.
There are also concerns about the ethnic Chin population in Mizoram State in northeastern India.
“Even though the local government has imposed an emergency decree, some people have gone out of their houses. We are trying to warn them about it. We urged them to buy food to last a few days,”an individual working with the Burmese Social Association in Mizoram told Khonumthung News, adding, “They may have problems sooner or later.”
Tens of thousands of Burmese nationals are living in Mizoram—many of whom are ethnic Chin.
At the time of reporting, India had more than 700 reported cases of the coronavirus, and 14 deaths from the infection.