Some 140,000 children, mostly belonging to displaced Rohingya-Muslim families, have been affected by heavy rains and floods that have devastated Myanmar since a cyclone made landfall in neighbouring Bangladesh last week, according to United Nations agencies.
“The floods are hitting children and families who are already very vulnerable, including those living in camps in Rakhine state,” said Shalini Bahuguna, an official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), in a statement on Monday. “Beyond the immediate impact, the floods will have a longer-term impact on the livelihood of these families,” she warned. The government of Myanmar has already declared Rakhine a calamity-hit area.
“Initial reports indicate that there has been extensive damage to shelters and other infrastructure in camps around Sittwe (Rakhine’s capital), where some 100,000 displaced people are staying,” said the United Nations Office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs (UNOCHA).
It is worth pointing out that some 150,000 Rohingyas are already in IDP camps with no services and are living under inhuman conditions, where they are denied basic necessities of life. Now with the flood such camps are in much dire state. As we have seen in the past, the Myanmar military and government agencies always ignore the plight of the Rohingya people who are considered outsiders in spite of theirs being the first settlers to Arakan state of Myanmar. Will they have a change of the heart? I doubt it. But if there is, it is a much waited welcome news.
Published reports suggest that the Red Cross Society and NGOs are working round the clock, in concert with UN agencies, to reach out to the distressed in far-flung regions battered by the twin cyclone-flood catastrophe.