Myanmar: Cyclone Mocha - Flash Update #8 (as of 14:00 19 May 2023)
19 May 2023
Humanitarian assistance has begun reaching people affected by cyclone Mocha in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as communities race to rebuild their lives and homes ahead of the monsoon.
On Sunday, cyclone Mocha devastated coastal regions in Rakhine, including Sittwe and Rathedaung, damaging or destroying homes, before moving inland where it brought severe flooding.
Vulnerable people continue to seek shelter in evacuation centers and monasteries in the aftermath of the cyclone.
In the past two days, the World Food Programme has delivered emergency food assistance to some 6,000 IDPs and people sheltering in cyclone shelters in the Rakhine capital Sittwe. Shelter support has also been delivered to communities in need and mobile health teams have been treating people in the field.
Humanitarians have been working to gauge the full impact of the cyclone in areas where they have access while partners await approval for coordinated field missions that would allow for the wider-scale distribution of assistance based on observed need.
The limited availability and soaring prices for essential items, especially shelter materials, are presenting significant challenges for those trying to reconstruct their damaged homes and shelters with the monsoon looming.
Although fuel supplies have arrived in some areas, a shortage of crucial public services, such as health facilities and water treatment, persists.
Awareness-raising messages are being disseminated in a bid to prevent waterborne diseases and casualties from landmines in flooded areas.
Urgent funding is required to meet the significant needs arising from Cyclone Mocha. Currently, the existing US$764 million Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is only 10 per cent funded.
On 18 May, the Emergency Relief Coordinator has approved an allocation of $10m from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support the response to cyclone Mocha in Myanmar.
Five days have passed since Cyclone Mocha struck Myanmar’s west, causing extensive damage and significantly affecting millions of people across Rakhine and the Northwest. Some parts of Kachin and northern Shan also experienced heavy rains and strong winds associated with the cyclone as the weather system moved inland. Electricity and telecommunication services are still unreliable in the affected townships.
Vulnerable people, including women, expectant mothers, children and the elderly, many of whom have not previously experienced displacement, are seeking shelter in evacuation centers and monasteries after being left homeless by the cyclone. Those who have returned home are facing the daunting task of rebuilding their damaged houses with limited available resources. Although some markets have re-opened, the soaring prices of basic shelter materials, such as tarpaulins, aluminum sheets, and nails, has made this task unaffordable for most people in these very impoverished parts of the country. For instance, the cost of a tarpaulin sheet has more than doubled, increasing from MMK 40,000 ($19) before the cyclone to MMK 97,000 ($46). Food costs are also soaring. For example, the price of one bag of rice has also increased from MMK 80,000 ($38) before the cyclone to MMK120,000 ($57). Such a sharp increases cannot be absorbed by most families.
Humanitarian partners have begun reaching people with support based on field observations in various townships where they had previously approved access or where there has been new access approved. On 18 May, the World Food Programme received permission to distribute emergency food in 8 townships: Sittwe, Kyauktaw, Ponngayun, Pauktaw, Rathedaung, Minbya, Meybon and Mrauk-U, as well as approval for assistance in Buthidaung and Maungdaw in northern Rakhine. It has been possible for partners to distribute some shelter assistance as well in locations where they had pre- existing operations and mobile health teams have been operational in affected communities. Humanitarians are seeking access for coordinated field missions to distribute wider assistance based on observations of the situation on the ground.
In recent days, initial humanitarian supplies have also been transported via trucks to Sittwe township from Yangon and humanitarians are exploring a range of approaches to try and move supplies to the impact zone from inside and outside the country, pending approval. Additionally, fuel supplies arrived in Sittwe city on 18 May and were distributed to gas stations. As of 19 May, gas stations are operational, and the price of fuel has dropped from MMK 2,700 (more than $1) to MMK 2,200 ($1). However, there is still a shortage of fuel, particularly for essential public services, such as health facilities and water treatment. Other critical needs include shelter, food aid, medical supplies, and healthcare services.
Concerns persist in flooded areas regarding the spread of waterborne disease and the movement of landmines in conflict areas. Humanitarian partners have preemptively developed awareness-raising messages in local languages around these concerns. These messages are being disseminated among affected communities in these areas to raise awareness and promote safety precautions.