No Repose for Locals as Second Wave of Flooding Affects Karen, Mon, Tanintharyi

By Lawi Weng 21 August 2018

MON STATE — A second wave of flooding has hit multiple parts of Myanmar including Karen and Mon states and Irrawaddy and Tanintharyi regions, as water from rivers continues to rise in locations where hundreds of people have been displaced from flooding.

More than 400 people have been relocated, according to reports from the government, as the water levels of the Salween River in Karen State rise.

In Kawkareik Township, 73 families – a total of 335 people – were relocated to other areas as water reached 60-122 centimeters (2-4 feet) deep in their community, as reported by the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday.

Twenty-seven families living near the Moei River, a tributary of the Salween River in Myawaddy Township, have moved to temporary camps as the river rose by 60 centimeters (2 feet) yesterday evening.

These have been the worst floods to hit Karen State in 50 years. The Karen State government opened 10 additional IDP camps for those displaced by the recent high water levels in the region. This has brought to 60 the total number of temporary camps opened by the government in the last month since the first floods hit the region.

Water from the Salween River began to rise on Saturday night, according to locals in Karen State where some people have had to move to temporary shelter at IDP camps.

The high water levels have also inundated several sections of the highway between Kyainseikgyi and Three Pagodas Pass near the Myanmar-Thai border. Some members of the authorities have been guiding vehicles for their passage along the highway.

However, many other parts remain unpassable for vehicles due to the high water levels. Drivers have been paying ferries to transport their cars through areas where they cannot drive. As these ferries tend to be made from bamboo and can carry just one car per journey, major travel delays in the area have become inevitable. As of today, it cost 15,000 kyats for one car to be transported and due to a high demand, long lines for the service have formed. Due to these delays and increased travel costs for border traders and travelers, much trade in Karen State has stopped.

Border trade between Myawaddy and Three Pagodas Pass has slowed dramatically with much damage caused to vehicles due to flooding on the highways in Karen State.

Border traders who continue to make the journey are being forced to pay double the regular transportation fees due to the requirement of offloading their goods to boats for safe passage across flooded zones and reloading the goods to their vehicles when dry ground is reached.

The price of commodities has also risen due to the dramatic decline in border trade, with people in Mon State reporting particularly high prices for rice.

More than 16,000 people were displaced in Karen State last month from townships that included Hpa-an, Hlaingbwe, Kawkareik and Myawaddy.

Water levels reached over 8 meters high in some towns in Tanintharyi Region on Aug. 21 according to local sources, with many people relocating to other areas while some continue to stay at their houses.

Authorities in Tanintharyi Region have announced that they will have to open a dam in the area and that at least 300 people will have to evacuate the affected location.

Flooding conditions have remained for 40 days now in some low land areas near rivers around Tanintharyi.

Both displaced people and local authorities helping victims have been working constantly to save property from flood damage and are becoming tired, according to Facebook posts by Tanintharyi local Mi Thu Zar.

According to reports from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Pathein Township in Irrawaddy Division and Karenni State also remain affected by floods with dozens of families having to relocate to other areas for their safety.