Thousands forced to evacuate as severe floods hit Rakhine State

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By Ika Koeck

Over the past several days, increasing heavy rains have caused severe flooding in the western state of Rakhine, Myanmar, destroying nearly 200 homes and causing serious damage to another hundred across four townships. During the first few days of the flooding, around 1,500 people were evacuated, and about 300 of the displaced continued to stay at camps for several days as the water receded. To date, the Asean Coordinating Centre For Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) estimates that 13,000 people were affected by the floods, with over 8,500 evacuated so far. The state of Rakhine is the worst-hit, with 11,500 people affected and five deaths reported.

“The figures are expected to increase in the coming days, as Red Cross assessment teams access remote areas of Rakhine affected by the flooding,” explains U Maung Maung Khin, head of disaster management for the Myanmar Red Cross Society.

Currently the Myanmar Red Cross is working alongside local authorities to assist affected communities. Red Cross volunteers are evacuating families to safety, distributing food and water, and first aid kits in Buthidaung township which include blankets, mosquito nets, basic kitchen utensils and other essential items. Further relief stocks will be distributed in the coming days in the township of Thandwe.

“The floods have triggered landslides in some areas. It impacts access to roads and bridges, so unfortunately it hinders our relief efforts, but we are also used to these challenges,” adds U Maung Maung Khin. “We will continue to do our best to those who are in need of help,” he says.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology of Myanmar has forecasted more rains in the coming days, which may prolong flooding in the affected areas.