Myanmar Spring Chronicle – May 17 Scenes
MoeMaKa, May 18 2023
How to recuperate from Mocha?
I don’t think it would be wrong to say that the damages from Cyclone Mocha are still counting until the 3rd day after the storm has passed. For those who live in the area affected by Cyclone Mocha, only they themselves know how serious their injuries are. Even in this situation, relatives who live in different places may still be in a situation where they do not know what is happening where their family members are due to a lack of communication.
The traumas of individuals may have been known, but the damages suffered by the entire village, the entire city, the entire state, and the entire country have not yet been finished counting. In terms of the NGO/INGO’s words, I think it should be said that the “need assessment” has not been completed yet. During this period, how are those in need of urgent help coping with short-term survival? As in the case of Cyclone Nargis, after the storm passed, the problems of drinking water, shelter, rice, clinics for emergency health care, etc. would be the first priority to be solved.
The scenes seen after Cyclone Mocha are similar to those seen in towns and villages in Ayeyarwady and Southern Yangon Region after Cyclone Nargis hit. Mostly seen are trees with broken branches and only trunks left; palm trees and betel trees with most of their fronds cut off and only one or two remaining; houses, schools, and monasteries with all the roofs blown off; city scenes with fallen trees across the road; streets in cities and villages with trees but no shade; residential neighborhoods full of ruins and damaged houses; piles of fishing boats and coast boats in the tributaries and small streams; and scenes with little water in the creeks. Nargis sightings hit the news media days or weeks after it, but now in 2023, everyone has a mobile phone in their hands and some places still have mobile and internet connectivity, so many sightings of Cyclone Mocha are going up on the internet within a day or two after the cyclone.
The news of the deaths of more than 400 Rohingya refugees in the Rohingya refugee camps near Sittwe did not appear on the news page on the same day or the day after the storm, but 2 days later. The news that hundreds of Rohingya refugees, who live in refugee camps with no freedom of movement, were floating in water when the sea tide rose rapidly due to strong winds and died. This was confirmed only after the storm hit. It can be concluded that most of the number of lives lost due to the Mocha storm will be in these Rohingya refugee camps.
After Cyclone Mocha struck, every time the news media posted news about the storm, there were comments requesting information about which village, damages, and death toll, expressing worries, and calling for help from family members who were in faraway places and were not able to contact their family.
At the time of Nargis, because communication technology had not yet developed, it would take days and weeks to get in touch and to know about one’s town or village, but nowadays communication technology can solve such situations to a certain extent.
However, even in the current situation, there are still many townships, wards, and villages where the telephone and internet are cut off. It is said that the journalists from Sittwe have to go to places like hotels that have internet access, while the journalists from the rural towns have to travel for 1 or 2 hours by motorbike to the place where the internet is available.
It must be said that relevant organizations are taking ‘need assessment’ list after Cyclone Mocha, such as how much damage there is, which areas need emergency help to continue living, how many people need help, and how much help is needed in Rakhine State, some areas in Magway and Sagaing. In the propaganda news of the military council, you will see news photos of rice bags being handed out and trees being cleared. But these are only a small part of the big story. A resident of Rathedaung, where it was initially known that 3 people died and 90 percent of the building was destroyed, told the news media that they have not received any help so far.
In cities like Kyauktaw and Mrauk-U, I have been reading reports that the price of iron nails per viss to re-stamp the iron roof sheets that are hanging out has increased from 4-5 thousand to 20,000 kyat to 70,000 kyat now. I have been reading news that an iron sheet is being bought at a price of at least 20,000 kyats or more, up from the usual price of around 10,000 kyats.
What will be the urgent needs of the people affected by the storm? How many people need help? Which regions are affected more? Which organizations are helping? Which regions have received aid? Will the emergency response operations for natural disasters go smoothly? To what extent can political and military competition and differences overshadow natural disaster relief? Can they put their differences aside for a while, put aid and relief first, and cooperate during a natural disaster? These are just only questions with no answer at the moment.