Myanmar: Cyclone Mocha - Flash Update #7 (as of 14:00 18 May 2023)
18 May 2023
A massive clean-up effort is continuing in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha that hit western Myanmar with brutal force on Sunday.
Millions of people live in the cyclone’s path, mostly in wooden shelters that were not built to ensure winds in excess of 200 kilometres per hour.
Coastal areas of Rakhine State bore the brunt of the cyclone, however partners now estimate almost 150,000 people in the country’s Northwest were also heavily affected, as well as a smaller number in Kachin. A total of 21 townships in Rakhine and Chin states have been declared affected by the cyclone, according to local authorities.
Electricity and telecommunication services remain interrupted in numerous townships in Rakhine and the Northwest.
Fuel is urgently needed for essential public services, particularly for health and water treatment. Clean water supplies are also getting low. Other pressing needs include shelter, food, and medicine, medical supplies and healthcare services.
There are ongoing negotiations for humanitarian access to people in need with all relevant stakeholders, while partners continue their field observations across Rakhine and prepare to begin coordinated field missions once granted approval.
Humanitarian actors have provided some initial support to affected communities across various townships in Rakhine where they had pre-existing approvals and operations. These efforts are directed towards both the affected Rakhine and Rohingya populations. Mobile health clinics have also begun operations.
As of 18 May, Sittwe Airport has re-opened, allowing commercial flights to arrive in Rakhine.
Resource mobilization efforts are underway, as more funding is crucial to address the huge needs emerging from the cyclone. The pre-existing US$764M Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is only 10 per cent funded which does not yet include the cost of responding to cyclone Mocha.
Millions of people live in the path of the cyclone and a massive effort is now underway to clear debris and provide shelter to those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. Coastal Rakhine took the heaviest hit from the cyclone with severe impacts across the northwest and some damage in Kachin also reported. As of 16 May, authorities declared 21 townships across Rakhine (17) and Chin (4) to be impacted by the cyclone. Many areas in Rakhine are still deprived of electricity and reliable telecommunication services, more than four days after the cyclone hit.
Partners have conducted field observations in multiple areas, including Sittwe and other townships to get a better sense of the impact in different locations. Once access is granted, the humanitarian actors are prepared to undertake coordinated field missions to gain a more comprehensive view of the situation. Humanitarian organizations have also been able to provide some preliminary support to communities affected by the cyclone where they had prior operations and approved access.
In Sittwe, the first signs of recovery are visible with the reopening of markets, shops, and restaurants. Urgent repairs to bridges connecting IDP camps in Sittwe are needed for the movement of the population and humanitarian access. Options for these repairs are being explored.
Various sources continue to document casualties and people who are missing, including some IDPs. It is crucial to ensure people who died in the cyclone are laid to rest with dignity. Partners highlight an urgent need for fuel to ensure the running of key public services, notably health and water treatment. Clean water supplies are a concern. Other critical needs include shelter, food aid, medical supplies, and healthcare services. In flooded areas, concerns persist about the spread of waterborne disease and the movement of landmines.
According to the Health Cluster, mobile clinics have begun operating in some of the affected townships, and rapid response teams have been deployed to Thet Kae Pyin, Thae Chaung, and Dar Paing IDP camps.
Most health facilities were affected, resulting in a shortage of medicines, medical supplies and health staff. Many laboratories and operating theatres in Sittwe township are non-functional. Urgent fuel supply is needed.
Healthcare for expectant mothers has suffered across all townships due to damaged hospitals and clinics, highlighting an urgent need for sexual and reproductive health services.
An estimated 80 per cent of the public schools in Ponnagyun township were damaged.
Seven nutrition centers located in Sittwe and inside IDP camps have been damaged.
The destruction of shelters and latrines, combined with a lack of electricity, heightens the risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially in IDP camps.
Most GBV centers within the IDP camps in Sittwe have also been impacted. Temporary solutions are being explored to maintain case management services and referrals.
Pre-existing activities by humanitarian partners are being refocused to assist those impacted by the cyclone, including the distribution of drinking water, relief items, and child protection and hygiene kits in collaboration with local partners. Water trucking efforts by humanitarian partners will begin once approved.
Partners report that in Chin, approximately 1,800 houses, 19 churches, 30 schools, and 5 hospitals were either completely or partially destroyed across Falam, Hakha, Kanpetlet, Matupi, Mindat, Paletwa, Tedim, Thantlang, and Tonzang townships due to the cyclone. Consequently, approximately 500 people were displaced and 50,000 people were otherwise affected.
In Sagaing, the impact of strong winds has reportedly affected approximately 85,000 people across Kale, Khin-U, Pale, Wetlet, and Yinmarbin townships, according to partners. The already challenging situation has been exacerbated by ongoing conflict and the presence of troops in the region, making it even more difficult for affected people to find safe shelter.
In Magway, approximately 11,000 households from 8 townships were affected; local partners have provided food, tarpaulins, and clothes to some 1,000 households so far.
In Mandalay, more than 200 people have been affected as their houses were swept away by strong winds and flooding.
There are urgent needs for food, shelter materials, clothing, WASH items, and medicines reported among the affected population in the Northwest. However, the response from partners is constrained by limited access, roadblocks, and ongoing conflict.