Emergency relief aid is still needed in Rakhine State even one month after the cyclone hit

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – June 17 Scenes

MoeMaKa, June 18, 2023

Emergency relief aid is still needed in Rakhine State even one month after the cyclone hit


Although a month has passed since the extremely powerful Cyclone Mocha made landfall near Sittwe in northern Rakhine State on May 15, the need for emergency aid in Rakhine State is still high, according to news reports and statements by humanitarian aid organizations.


In the areas that suffered the worst from the cyclone, such as Sittwe, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Pauktaw, and Minbya, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who are facing problems with roofless houses, clean drinking water, and food. Although the press release of the military council, such as state-owned newspapers and Myawaddy newspapers, reports that buildings are being prepared, food is being distributed, and electricity has been redistributed to Sittwe, in the actual situation, there are many communities, villages, and people who have been badly affected by the storm who have not yet received help. We can see these difficulties and the need for help in the independent news media free from the control of the military council.


According to the information gathered by the Arakan Army (AA), only 30 percent of people have received emergency aid, 70 percent are still in need, and more than 280,000 houses in more than 2,000 villages have been destroyed in the cyclone.


Some Northern Alliance armed groups and some ethnic armed groups helped through the AA to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Rakhine State affected by the cyclone. However, because the actual need is many times greater and due to the restrictions and blocking orders of the military council, it is still difficult for those who really need help to get help.


The organization responsible for actually helping is the military council that controls the region, and the military council, which manages natural gas, natural resources and taxes produced in Rakhine State, has an obligation to help those affected by natural disasters as soon as possible. However, due to political gain and not wanting other organizations to be able to do relief effectively, the military council imposes restrictions on the aid programs of the international aid organization, the United Nations, closely monitors domestic aid providers, stops aid supplies on the way, and arbitrarily arrests and interrogates aid workers, causing aid groups to delay and wait.


The military council, like the junta in 2008 when Cyclone Nargis broke out, is restricting international aid and it will continue to tarnish their history. Limiting the transportation of food, medicine, and aid to areas where there is no armed conflict under the pretext of security is a very ugly act. The northern part of Rakhine State can be entered through the Minbu-Ann road, and as a waterway, the Yangon-Sittwe waterway is used. The military council has made it necessary to get permission to travel on the main routes, causing difficulties in providing aid to the people affected by the storm in Rakhine State.


At this time, the AA armed group is trying to avoid criticism to the military council and minimize problems on the ground as much as possible because of the fact that only the people of Rakhine will suffer more. Because this is a problem of natural disasters, as an ethnic armed group, it has to tolerate the military council, giving first, second, and third priority to public assistance without politicizing it.


We read in the news articles about the suicide of some people who could not find a way to escape from the crisis of food and living conditions and mental trauma until a week later, after the cyclone hit Rakhine State. Although some were lucky enough to escape the cyclone disaster, there are many people who commit suicide because it is more difficult to survive. When Cyclone Nargis occurred, similar traumas and suicides happened, and now, after Cyclone Mocha, similar incidents have started to appear. Due to political limitations, political exploitation, and man-made mismanagement of the consequences of the natural disaster, the local people affected by the storm have had to suffer more and even end their lives.