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Church aid for flood-affected people in Myanmar

Flash flooding due to heavy rains since last week adds to miseries of internally displaced people hit by cyclone Mocha in May
A girl hangs clothes at a refugee camp in Sittwe on May 16 after cyclone Mocha made a landfall. To add to the misery of the affected people, flash floods triggered by incessant heavy rains since last week have displaced many people in western and southern Myanmar

A girl hangs clothes at a refugee camp in Sittwe on May 16 after cyclone Mocha made a landfall. To add to the misery of the affected people, flash floods triggered by incessant heavy rains since last week have displaced many people in western and southern Myanmar. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 08, 2023 10:31 AM GMT
Updated: August 08, 2023 11:15 AM GMT

Flash floods triggered by incessant rains have badly affected internally displaced people (IDPs) in western and southern Myanmar, say Church sources.

Church officials and local aid workers said they were receiving reports of damages to houses inside IDP camps at Paletwa town in southern Chin state and in Rakhine state.

“We have received information of damaged houses in Paletwa town and are still collecting information from flood-affected communities in Rakhine state,” Father Nereus Tun Min, director of Catholic charity Karuna Pyay said.

Paletwa township was hit by Cyclone Mocha in May 2023. About 500 displaced people live in five camps including one inside St. Peter Catholic Church compound since fighting between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army began in 2018.

“We are arranging to send cash from our Lenten fund to repair damaged homes,” Tun Min told UCA News on Aug. 8.

At least 33 houses made from bamboo and tarpaulins were badly damaged and the people were moved to safe areas, according to Mg Aye, a church social worker from Paletwa town.

“It is still raining and we are concerned for the people living in low-lying areas and near rivers,” Mg Aye said.

U Taninlar said his house inside the church compound was completely damaged and he had taken refuge in his son’s house nearby.

“We can’t do anything to repair our house as it is still raining. We are IDPs without an income source and need help to do it,” said the 58-year-old Catholic from the Khumi Chin tribe.

Southern Myanmar has been receiving heavy rains since last week leading to widespread flooding, landslides and damaged roads, local media reported.

Over 10,000 people have been evacuated to shelters in Mon and Karen states, according to an Aug. 5 report in the junta-run Mirror newspaper.

Kyaw Lin, a church worker from Kyauktaw township in Rakhine state, said the water levels were rising due to rains the entire last week and many houses, especially in the low-lying areas have been affected.

“The people from the low-lying areas are moving to higher ground as their houses have been flooded,” he added.

“It is an added misery for the people in Rakhine state as they had also borne the brunt of cyclone Mocha,” Kyaw Lin said.

At least 455 people were killed and tens of thousands of homes were damaged by the powerful cyclone Mocha, which devastated Rakhine, Chin, and Kachin states along with Magwe and Sagaing regions.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology on Aug.7 warned of the likelihood of floods due to strong winds prevailing until Aug.10.

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