Possible food shortage in Chin State: NGO

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Thursday, 19 January 2012 12:35 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – Chin State, the poorest state in Burma, may again be facing a food shortage with up to 100,000 people affected, says the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) of Britain.

The humanitarian NGO said it sees evidence of renewed famine in Chin State following the Mawta famine that began in 2007. Chronic food shortages in parts of southern Chin State are particularly severe this year after a bad harvest, it said in a statement released on Wednesday.

The populations of Kanpetlet, Matupi, Mindat and Paletwa townships are at risk of forced migration when food stores run out, it said.

The cause of the last famine was a devastating rat infestation. The word “Mawta” is a dialectical word of the Chin people to describe the flowering of bamboo; a natural occurrence that takes place every 50 years. Bamboo covers a fifth of the area in Chin State, and its flower provides abundant food for rats.

Chin Human Right Organization (CHRO) has monitored the continuing effects of the Mawta famine. It has documented that Chin refugees in Dehli have doubled in the last year. In April 2011, a report from the United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) highlighted an increase in the cost of basic commodities and seasonal water shortages in the area.

Accurate information on the current situation in remote parts of Chin State is difficult to obtain. HART collected testimonial evidence from nine village representatives in the affected areas, who said that their villages harvested food supplies that are expected to last three months, running out between December 2011 and January 2012. The crisis faced by these villages is likely to be replicated across Chin State, said the NGO.

The situation could particularly bleak for those villages which have no roads connecting them to the outside world, it said, and the international community should respond once again to help prevent further famine.

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