Myanmar Spring Chronicle – May 22 Scenes
MoeMaKa, May 23 2023
The United Nations is not yet allowed to provide aid to those affected by the storm in need of emergency assistance
In today’s news, it is reported that the main international aid organization, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), has not been allowed to provide aid to the victims affected by the storm by the military council even after more than a week of Cyclone Mocha.
For the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Rakhine State, which suffered the worst from the powerful tropical cyclone Mocha, it needs to get the approval of the military council.
Even more than a week after the storm hit, the military council has yet to give permission, leading to speculation that it was intended to take advantage of the natural disaster politically rather than a bureaucratic procedure. Immediately after the storm hit, the military council has been releasing the news photos of its forces carrying and transporting rescue equipment and members of Fire Brigade going as rescue workers by navy ships and military helicopters, and photos of its armed forces and members of Fire Brigade clearing the debris and trees blocking the roads in Sittwe. However, foreign-based news outlets and state-based independent news media have reported the extent of the damage, the scenes of ruined areas, the difficulty of drinking water for the local communities affected by the storm, the lack of emergency shelters, the scarcity of raw materials such as iron sheets, and tins to prepare damaged houses for temporary shelter, and the fact that they are being bought at exorbitant prices. There were reports that a 20-liter bottle of clean drinking water was as high as 20,000 kyats in some places just after the storm, and now it is being bought for 10,000 kyats.
It is to be questioned that whether the military council is viewing aid and relief as an opportunity for political gain in this situation. The Arakan Army AA, which has established a parallel administration in some regions of Rakhine State, has appealed the international governments and organizations to help as it is unable to help Rakhine State from natural disasters alone.
The international governments and the United Nations are in a situation where they have to engage with the military council that controls the distribution channels and territorial sovereignty in helping to rescue victims of natural disasters, even if they don’t wish to. However, there has been no sign of the approval of the United Nations to provide aid by the military council, even after more than a week. When Cyclone Nargis struck, there was an instance of leaving a black dot in the history of the leaders of the SPDC military regime (State Peace and Development Council) for delaying international aid, and for rejecting offers of emergency clean water and food aid by some major Western countries during natural disasters.
After the Nargis incident, the military leaders of the SPDC military regime were recorded for committing Crimes Against Humanity. Despite such instances, the coup leader Min Aung Hlaing is making to reach a situation where he will be recorded as a culprit for committing crimes against humanity in history.
As an emergency aid for those affected by Cyclone Mocha, there has been news that the humanitarian aid sent by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) has also started to be delivered by sea and air through Malaysia and Thailand in the past few days. However, there has been no news reported about delivering aid to those affected by the storm.
I have been wondering how storm-affected residents clearing the debris amidst the destroyed houses, religious buildings, pagodas, roads, bridges, schools, and ruins will survive the coming monsoon season in the coming days, and it seems like a puzzle with no answer. According to United Nations statistics, there are 5.2 million people affected by Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar, and 3.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.
In 2008, the SPDC military regime had put more effort in enacting the 2008 constitution rather than Cyclone Nargis. They committed crimes against humanity with the fear that if international aid was allowed, the information about damages and losses, and information about the military regime’s management and repression could be disseminated to the international community. Now, after Cyclone Mocha in 2023, the military council is said to be reaching the position of committing crimes against humanity in the background of internal armed conflicts, opposition to the military coup, and deep political divisions.