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Heavy rains displace homeless in Myanmar

More than 1,000 people from shelter camps in Shan state moved to safer places due to flooding
Residents move to safer places after heavy rains in Myanmar's Bago region on Oct. 9.

Residents move to safer places after heavy rains in Myanmar's Bago region on Oct. 9. (Photo: AFP)

Published: October 17, 2023 11:42 AM GMT
Updated: October 18, 2023 04:41 AM GMT

More than 1,000 people from shelter camps in a strife-torn southern state of Myanmar have moved to safer places following heavy rains and flooding.

Those in the camps in Mobye township in the Shan state have moved to their relatives’ homes in nearby states, Lynn, a Church social worker who goes by first name, told UCA News on Oct.17.

Besides, these temporary camps were erected near paddy fields in Mobye, he observed.

The heavy rainfall since Oct.12 has led to the release of excess water from the Mobye dam, affecting the camps and paddy fields that were under cultivation.

They are assessing the situation to respond to the needs, Lynn added.

Mobye town is home to 30,000 people, half of whom are Christians, mostly Catholics.  There are also Buddhists from various ethnic groups, like the Karenni, Kayah and Kayaw communities.

Most of the inhabitants in Mobye are living in camps after fighting between the ruling military and armed rebel groups increased in 2021.

Many from the flood-hit Shan state have moved to Loikaw, the capital of neighboring Kayah state.

“It has been raining until this morning (Oct.17)” in Shan state,” said U Reh, a Catholic resident in Kayah state.

The churches and the camps in Loikaw are free from flooding, according to Reh.

Flooding has inundated several regions such as Bago, Mandalay, Yangon, and Mon.

More than 27,000 people from the Bago region in southern Myanmar were evacuated to temporary camps and around 2,800 homes sustained damage, according to state-run media reports.

Flooding in late July affected most states in Myanmar, including Rakhine, where thousands continue to suffer after Cyclone Mocha hit them in May 2023.

Myanmar is in the grip of bloody fighting between the ruling military junta and armed rebel groups, including Christians.

The junta seized power in a February 2021 coup after toppling the elected civilian government.

Mobye is under the jurisdiction of Pekhon diocese in southern Shan state and is one of the areas hit hardest by ongoing fighting. 

At least five parishes in the diocese were abandoned after thousands fled their homes.

A Church source said they are yet to return.

“People don’t dare to go back to their respective villages,” said the source, who declined to be named.

More than 1.9 million out of a total population of 56 million have been displaced in the Southeast Asian nation, according to the latest report in October by the United Nations.

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