Mocha-affected victims are still in urgent need of emergency aid

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – May 30 Scenes

MoeMaKa, May 31, 2023

Mocha-affected victims are still in urgent need of emergency aid

Ms. Noriko Takagi, Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Myanmar, visited Nay Pyi Taw to meet with the Military Council’s Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Daw Thet Thet Khaing, and discussed the issue of providing aid to the storm-affected areas in Rakhine State, according to the Ministry of Military Council’s social media pages.

It can be concluded that the United Nations is engaging with the military council to provide emergency assistance to the storm-affected areas in Rakhine State. On the other hand, it can be assumed that the MoU between the United Nations UNHCR and the Military Council has not yet been signed as it is reported that the issue of MoU was discussed.

The World Food Program (WFP) has been providing emergency food aid to Rakhine State, as reported in the news. In conclusion, it can be said that the United Nations organizations are still in the process of getting full access to provide aid in the storm-affected areas in Rakhine State.

It can be seen that the military council has not been able to loosen the already existing bureaucracy for the cyclone. Even after a very powerful cyclone hit Rakhine State, curfew orders, inspections, and requests for permits for vehicles carrying aid supplies are still being carried out as before, delaying the provision of emergency aid.

29 Rakhine social assistance and 29 civil society organizations jointly requested the withdrawal of the restrictions that are hindering the provision of much-needed aid in Rakhine State with the date of May 19. Request to open the Yangon-Sittwe highway road for 24 hours a day was also involved as a main factor. An official of the Rakhine social assistance organizations told the news media that when people providing relief have to spend the night on the road due to the curfew, the arrival of relief supplies is delayed, and there are still villages that have not received help until two weeks after the storm hit.

It can be seen that the military council cannot exclude the worry of the security and interest of the council taking the administrative power, the suspicion of taking political exploitation from this natural disaster, rather than helping the people quickly get relief when a natural disaster strikes. In this case, we will see the similarity of military regimes, such as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military regime in 2008, when Cyclone Nargis hit.

According to the latest news, some villages in Rathedaung Township still have areas that have not yet received aid. The news reported the hardships of storm-affected victims, such as the situation of living and sleeping without shelter when it rains, the unfavorable condition to restore the flushing of seawater into drinking water pools and wells, and the situation of not knowing how to restart their lives as the shelter and items for livelihoods were destroyed. For those working in agriculture, the death of cattle and cows is a huge loss, and for those who work in the fishing industry, the destruction of fishing boats and fishing equipment by storms is making it difficult to restart family-income businesses.

Don’t look too far, even the necessities for survival such as shelter, drinking water, and medicine are in urgent need currently. For the villages that use waterways for transportation, drifting and destruction of boats makes it difficult to travel from one place to another, and in areas that rely on land roads, bridges and roads are damaged.

As for the ULA/AA, which has gained some control over the administration of some areas of Rakhine State, although they are working hard on rescue and relief work, there is a need for financial support and material assistance. It is not exactly known yet whether international embassies, governments, and organizations of ASEAN and UN have engaged with AA for aid or not. It can be seen that AA has given first priority to helping the refugees without making it a political issue in helping those affected by Cyclone Mocha.

The next main character in the Cyclone Mocha issue is the National Unity Government. Since there are no organizations under the NUG that have control on the ground, it is difficult to provide aid in practice, and international aid goes through the military council that rules on the ground, so it can be said that NUG’s role is lagging behind.

However, the NUG is in a position to monitor the aid reaching where it should be on time, and to exercise pressure politically.