Myanmar floods: ICRC joins relief efforts in Rakhine
Persistent heavy monsoon rains in Myanmar, exacerbated by Cyclone Komen on July 31, have caused landslides and extensive flooding across the country. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as part of the relief efforts by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is concentrating its work in Rakhine, where it has a strong operational presence due to the violence.
In this interview, Man Yee, deputy head of the ICRC subdelegation in Sittwe, explains more about the situation and on our response.
What is the situation like in Rakhine?
It is very serious. However people in the three most affected townships, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw and Minbya, are now starting to go back home, markets are reopening and people are starting to fish again.
The situation outside the cities, in the villages, is still not that clear. We need to see what the assessment teams find once they get to those places. Assessments should start soon and they will give us more information.
It is already clear that people who sought refuge in cities are returning back to home to find their paddy fields lost and will need seeds to start farming again. They will also need basic household things, such as kitchen items, hygiene products and more.
Many ponds were contaminated too. So another urgent task is to help provide safe drinking water.
How is the ICRC response organized?
It is important to stress that our aid is only a small part of a wider efforts by our colleagues from the Myanmar Red Cross (MRCS). Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are working tirelessly in the areas affected by the floods in Myanmar.
We are concentrating our support where we have a strong presence due to previous violence, like in Rakhine, and are providing assistance to people from all affected communities.
What is the ICRC doing?
First, we have first distributed essential items such as blankets, sleeping mats and lamps to people who took refuge in evacuation centers in the township of Mrauk-U, one of the worst-affected areas.
Together with our MRCS colleagues, we are supporting the Ministry of Health by helping with the transportation of health staff going to villages and bringing the sick and wounded to hospital. We have also fixed up hospitals in several townships and distributed medicines and rehydration salts.
By the end of the week, we plan to have distribute over 6,300 kgs of rice to 10,000 people around Mrauk-U.
There are more than 100,000 people living in displaced camps in Rakhine. Were they affected?
Yes, unfortunately the camps were affected. Shelter, latrines and learning centres were damaged. We plan to provide tarpaulins to families in Sittwe and Buthidaung camps, whose houses were destroyed, although the camps are not the main focus of our relief efforts as a number of other organizations are also active there.