Flooding affects thousands in Myanmar, church responds

Emergency relief provided to distressed communities in Irrawaddy Delta
Flooding affects thousands in Myanmar, church responds

A villager rides a wooden boat as other residents wade through floodwaters in a village in Mandalay, Myanmar on Aug. 3. (Photo by AFP)

The Catholic Church in Myanmar is supplying emergency relief to communities affected by flooding that has displaced tens of thousands of people in the Irrawaddy Delta.

Branches of Karuna Myanmar Social Solidarity — the Myanmar name for Caritas — are on the ground assisting communities affected by flooding that has hit eight regions situated on three of the country's main rivers.

As part of church efforts, the Karuna branch of the port city of Pathein visited 12 villages in Thar Baung township Aug. 7 to assess the flooding situation.

Father Henry Eikhlein, director of Karuna Pathein, said they are arranging a temporary relief camp in a parish of the township where they provide food and tarpaulins.

"We will use our US$10,000 from our Lenten fund as an emergency response to the flood-affected villagers where Christians and Buddhists reside," Father Eikhlein told ucanews.com.

Karuna Pathein is already experienced in relief operations, having helped during Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the Irrawaddy Delta in 2008.


Father Henry Eikhlein (left ) meets with villagers in Kan Yar Gone village, Tharbaung township to asses the flooding situation on Aug. 7. (Photo courtesy of Karuna Pathein)


As of Aug. 8, more than 360,000 people have been displaced by seasonal monsoon flooding in Myanmar, according to a U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Karuna Mandalay is closely monitoring the situation in Mandalay and Magwe regions where water levels in swollen rivers have slightly dropped resulting in some people returning to their homes.

"We have been monitoring it closely and we have stepped up establishing a diocesan emergency response team as preparedness for future flooding," Vincent Than Min Tun, emergency coordinator of Karuna Mandalay told ucanews.com.

Karuna Mandalay had earlier organized diocesan level disaster risk reduction training Aug.1-3. Eight priests and 30 laypeople from Mandalay Archdiocese took part in the program.

Father Joseph Maung Win, director of Karuna Yangon, told ucanews.com that: "We are still observing the situation but we asked our staff to make assessments of the villages in the project areas of Yangon Archdiocese."

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This time last year, the Irrawaddy Delta also faced severe flooding which submerged more than 80,000 houses in 17 townships.


Villagers use a boat for transport as flooding water submerges villages in Tharbaung township, Irrawaddy Delta on Aug. 7. (Photo courtesy of Karuna Pathein)

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