August 6th, 2015
Flooding Crisis in Burma (Myanmar): An urgent appeal from Dr Sasa
HART has received an urgent appeal for help from our partner Dr Sasa in Chin state, Burma following severe flooding.
Heavy seasonal monsoon rains and havoc caused by Cyclone Komen has caused catastrophic flooding across Burma. Over 330,000 people from 11 of the 14 states in Burma have been affected by swelling rivers, landslides and strong winds which have destroyed thousands of homes, villages and infrastructure. There are now 74 confirmed deaths.
In Hakha township, the worst-hit township in Chin State, 600-700 households have been forced to move as crack lines have appeared in the village. 300-350 houses have been completely destroyed and paddy fields have been swept away. Two villages nearby were covered by a mud-slide. The highways have been destroyed restricting access for humanitarian assistance, including urgent food aid.
Hla Aung, Executive Secretary of Global Chin Christian Fellowship Camp Yangon, said that ‘the most urgent needs are food and medicines as well as an emergency measures to prevent further landslides and ground cracking’.
Across Burma, Sasa reports that approximately 1 million acres of farmland have been affected by the flooding: half a million acres of farmland has been so damaged that no harvest can be expected.
Dr Sasa’s expansive community health initiative, Health and Hope, is based in the village of Lailenpi. Here there has been tremendous damage to infrastructure preventing many from returning to their homes and making travel between villages impossible.
Sasa has reported that buildings of the school in Lailenpi and dormitories of the Community Health Worker (CHW) training centre have also been badly damaged by the strong winds of Cyclone Komen.
Dr Sasa and his team are now working hard to support those around them hit by the flooding. Three members of the Health and Hope team have been stuck in one nearby village for at least three days as a bridge has been washed away by the floods. Similarly, three other members are stuck in Chapi village as roads have been damaged by landslides and flooding.
The stranding of team members has been a blessing in disguise as they are able to reach areas outside Lailenpi where they are ‘doing everything in their own capacity to transport emergency food relief aid to flood victims and they are there every day to communicate with local authorities and Government officials on their relief efforts and to arrange the logistic support of well-wishers and helpers.’
The Burmese Government which was initially criticised for not acting to help its people, appealed for humanitarian emergency support from the international community 2 days ago. This has been met by pledges from Governments including the UK, Japan, the US, Australia, Thailand and others, who have offered monetary assistance. This humanitarian assistance is greatly needed and must be distributed without discriminating against any ethnic groups/regions.
Dr Sasa has reported that the Mizoram State Government in India has been very supportive in relief efforts and local relief teams have been established in Saiha and Aizawl. Air assistance is possible, if the Chief Minister’s request is received positively by the Prime Minister of India.
Dr Sasa has sent HART a comprehensive report on the current situation, including recommendations for the best course of action (you can download the full report below). Sasa suggests cross-border aid as the most effective way of reaching those affected in Chin State, especially areas surrounding Lailenpi.
Read his recommendations below:
‘Recommendations and Requests
- Within Burma, the Governmental agencies, UN agencies, WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR and CBO, NGOs and INGOs have admitted the difficulties to reach out to these 300,000 affected people by road. Therefore we recommend cross-border routes for emergency food relief aids.
- For the flood victims in Chin State, India/Burma cross-border aid is strongly recommended. For instance, the distance between Saiha (the capital of Mara Autonomous region, Mizoram state of India), and Hakha (the capital of Chin State) is only 67 km distance by air and only 100km distance by land. Therefore we strongly recommend helping rebuild and repair this route so that urgent food aid can pass through.
- The cross-border aid has been strongly supported by Chin State of Burma and the neighbouring Mizoram State of India. The Chief Minister of Mizoram State, the Chief Executive, and Senior Executive members of Mara Autonomous Governing body of India recommend that the India-Burma cross border route is used to deliver food aid to flood victims.
- We have local net-working groups: Health and Hope India is active in Mizoram state; Health and Hope Burma is active in Burma especially in Chin State and Rakhine State where we have partners with 450 villages and 1003 CHWs and TBAs. Our international partners organisations are HART-USA in the United States, Health &Hope-UK and HART-UK in United Kingdom, and HART-Australasia in Australia. Therefore, we request all our supporters and friends to please consider donating for these emergency food relief aids for flood victims. One rice bag of 50 KG costs 32 $ (US dollar), there is urgent in need of 120000 food (rice) bags for emergency food relief aids. Please visit us at www.healthandhope.org .’
Dr Sasa and his team are urgently in need of assistance in this escalating crisis. When the flooding declines, replacement of lost crops and the need to rebuild homes, school buildings and infrastructure will be imperative. Any assistance that you can give would be hugely appreciated.
To donate to this appeal, please click here.
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