Flooding Makes ‘A Bad Situation Worse’ for Thousands of Rakhine State IDPs

Tuesday,3June 22, 2020

Internally displaced people (IDPs) in 14 camps in five Rakhine State townships are facing difficulties with rising floodwaters, local civil society organizations said.

Zaw Zaw Tun, secretary of the Rakhine Ethnics Congress (REC) said that days of heavy rain has caused flooding in Minbya, Myebon, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, and Mrauk-U townships in northern Rakhine State, damaging IDPs’ shelters.

“Now the water level is gradually decreasing. [The IDPs’] shelters and walls were damaged by the water current,” he told NMG. “I cannot say the exact extent of the damage, because it’s difficult to go there. Communication is not good at the moment. The phone signal is not good when it rains. We are collecting data about the damage. The IDPs requested waterproof tarps and plastic sheets. They also told us that they are struggling for food. I think more than 7,000 IDPs are facing trouble.”

An IDP in Myebon Township’s Yetchaung camp said that they relocated to a safe place to escape the flooding.

“We haven’t returned to our camp. The water level has begun to decrease. Our camp was built in a paddy field. Flooding began in our camp on June 17. Therefore, we sent the children and elderly people to Laytaung monastery,” the IDP explained.

He added that they have not had enough food since May.

“We have had a little rice. We don’t have anything else. We are in trouble. We have nothing to eat. Now we have a problem with the place where we live,” he told NMG.

REC’s Zaw Zaw Tun said that heavy rain fell in northern Rakhine State for more than one week.

“I think the state government has a natural disaster and emergency rescue committee and a financial budget for this. I want the government to give assistance to these IDPs as soon as possible,” he said, explaining that civil society should not be blocked from providing support, as well. “I think the government should provide assistance to these IDPs before the bad situation turns worse. The government has yet to provide any assistance as of today.”

Local CSOs are providing food to IDPs who have relocated to monasteries and schools amid the rains.

According to Zaw Zaw Tun, flooding occurred in the second week of June, and many IDPs left in search of drier place at that time. As water levels decrease, IDPs are returning to the camps, but the rainy season will continue for months.

More than 150,000 people have been displaced by clashes between the Burma Army and Arakan Army in Rakhine State, according to local estimates.