UNDP says hunger, disease growing post-Cyclone Mocha in Rakhine State


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 3rd June. UNDP said on Friday that aid access is uncertain, disease is spreading, and a major food crisis remains a very real threat after deadly Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar.

Over 1.6 million people in Rakhine, Chin, Magway, Sagaing, and Kachin states are in dire need of assistance after Mocha’s 250 kilometre per hour wind gusts destroyed homes, farmland and livestock.

UNDP)Resident Representative in Myanmar, Titon Mitra, said that time was of the essence as food reserves were being “completely wiped out”, water sources needed to be urgently decontaminated and the monsoon was just “a matter of weeks away”.

“The international community has to be given widespread access to the affected communities. And that’s a very urgent requirement,” he said.

UN launched a $333 million Flash Appeal for Myanmar.

Mr. Mitra said that it was “not anywhere near sufficient” for the time being due to a lack of access and support in rural areas remained “far from adequate”.

“Some regional donors have already provided some support and that’s been channelled through the military logistics as CSOs and UN organizations have got limited access at the moment,” Mr. Mitra said.

He highlighted that a distribution plan has been submitted to the military authorities, stressed that “it needs to be cleared very soon, so international organizations with their CSO partners can move freely”.

Mr. Mitra insisted that “this really is a time for the depoliticization and the demilitarization of aid, because the needs are absolutely immense”.

The recovery may take years, he added.

He pointed out that the majority of those affected were already “the poorest of the poor”.

Concerns are mounting fast about the future of rural livelihoods, as some 1,200 square kilometres of land flooded due to Mocha, while rains combined with storm surges devastated agriculture and fisheries.

Mr. Mitra warned that the provision of relief itself was “not enough” and that if people are unable to plant food crops within the next few weeks, there could be a “major food crisis” emerging in the coming months.

“Households have completely lost their seed stocks. So we are anticipating, unless there’s an effective response, that food availability and affordability will become huge issues,” he insisted.

UN included Myanmar in a list of 18 “hunger hotspots” where critical food insecurity is projected to intensify.

According to UNDP data, Mocha hit, 80 per cent of people in Rakhine were living in poverty and 200,000 were internally displaced.

In 2022, half of the state’s population cutting down on meals due to the economic crisis, UNDP data showed.

Mr. Mitra warned if swift action by the international community did not materialize, “we risk perpetuating an unending cycle of suffering”.

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