Cyclone Mocha Dead Refused Evacuation: Myanmar Junta Boss

By The Irrawaddy 22 May 2023

Those killed by Cyclone Mocha refused offers of evacuation, Myanmar’s junta boss Min Aung Hlaing has told a ceremony to accept donations for recovery operations.

Min Aung Hlaing accepted donations on Saturday, saying there had been slight property damage and few casualties because his regime had made proper preparations. He has so far refused to allow international humanitarian organizations to provide relief.

Mocha hit western Myanmar on May 14, killing hundreds of Rohingya, and causing massive property damage. Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, was hit hardest by the storm.

On May 13, Min Aung Hlaing was in Kengtung in Shan State consecrating a pagoda in a spiritual ceremony.

There are 13 displacement camps on the outskirts of Sittwe, sheltering more than 100,000 stateless Rohingya Muslims displaced by inter-communal violence in 2012. They are barred from leaving their camps.

Around 10 junta trucks arrived at the camps on May 14, hours before the cyclone, and took some children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and the elderly to temporary shelters, according to Rohingya sources.

A Rohingya man from Thekkelpyin village, who asked for anonymity, said: “There are only two shelters in Thaechaung and Kaungtaka villages. Each can only hold around 500 people. The temporary shelters in schools and hospitals were full. There might not have been heavy casualties if we had sufficient shelters.”

The regime on Friday said 177 Rohingya had been killed by Mocha in Rakhine but volunteer organizations say many others are still missing.

Ko Nay San Lwin, the founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, said it was too early to give a death toll but added that the Rohingya community had been badly affected.

“They only gave them a few hours to evacuate. People had no time to leave and stayed in the camps. Their deaths could have been avoided. Transport and shelter should have been arranged earlier. The deaths could have been avoided,” said Ko Nay San Lwin.

Thousands have been left homeless in Rakhine and Chin states and Sagaing and Magwe regions with many still in need of food, clothes and healthcare while sickness is spreading through camps.