Burma

Nearly 9,500 People Affected by Rakhine State Floods

By Min Aung Khine 17 July 2019

SITTWE—More than 9,000 people were displaced by floods in Rakhine State in the second week of July, according to the state’s Disaster Management Department.

The Kaladan and Lemyo rivers began rising on July 11 due to heavy rains, flooding Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships in Mrauk-U District in northern Rakhine. Roads in Kyauktaw were impassable, disrupting transportation.

According to the department, 9,489 residents of the townships—2,323 from Kyauktaw, 4,282 from Mrauk-U and 2,886 from Minbya—were affected by the flooding. The floodwaters started to recede on July 15.

“Over 9,000 locals have been affected by the floods. They were evacuated to the homes of their relatives, and to monasteries and schools. We are distributing relief supplies to them,” department official U Ye Min Oo told The Irrawaddy.

In Mrauk-U, the floods came as another blow to local residents who are taking shelter at camps after being displaced by clashes between the Myanmar Army (or Tatmadaw) and the Arakan Army.

A road inundated by floodwaters in Kyauktaw is seen on July 15. / Min Aung Khine / The Irrawaddy

U Wai Hla Aung, an official at the Tein Nyo camp, which houses around 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), said no relief organizations have yet come to offer assistance.

“The floodwaters have subsided, but we lost some rice and rations in the floods. We need many relief supplies, and the government has not provided any so far,” he told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The Irrawaddy visited IDP camps in Mrauk-U on July 13 and July 15, and saw displaced persons evacuating flooded areas. The IDPs who spoke to The Irrawaddy said they had not received any assistance from the government.

In two urban wards of Minbya, 29 houses were swept away when a riverbank collapsed, according to local residents. Meanwhile, thousands of people were forced from their homes after Pan Myaung Gyi and Phaung Tha creeks burst their banks in Minbya Township, according to Rakhine State lawmaker U Hla Thein Aung, who represents the township.

“The floodwaters begun to recede gradually today [Monday]. Flood victims are still taking shelter at monasteries. Neither the government nor civil society organizations have provided emergency relief. There are many problems, as locals already displaced by clashes have been hit again by the floods,” he told The Irrawaddy.

A flooded village in Kyauktaw Township is seen on July 15. / Min Aung Khine / The Irrawaddy

The government, citing security concerns, has suspended internet services in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon townships in Rakhine since June 21.

The internet shutdown has had serious social and economic impacts on Rakhine State residents. The lack of internet access is making it difficult for flood-hit residents to inform officials of their situation and obtain the emergency relief they need, said Rakhine State lawmaker U Tun Tha Sein of Mrauk-U Township.

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