Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) has initiated an urgent relief program to help the victims of the heavy rains in Myanmar over the past few weeks, which have caused widespread floods and landslides in several parts of the country.
Cyclone Komen, which made landfall in Bangladesh on 30 July after sitting off the coast of Western Myanmar for several days, brought intensified winds and further heavy rains, which resulted in more floods and landslides in several states and regions in Western and Northern Myanmar.
According to available data, a total of more than 178,000 persons have been affected by the flooding and landslides, with 48 fatalities reported.
Communications and transportation infrastructure have been impacted, and flood waters have not receded in many areas — these factors combined mean that it is still difficult to access areas and information remains scarce.
Meanwhile, current weather forecasts are predicting that rain will continue for several more days, which could result in further flooding. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, flooding has inundated nearly 400,000 acres of farmland, destroyed 30,000 acres, and damaged more than 73,000 acres.
In an instant response, QRC mobilized the emergency mobile hospital to Myanmar to offer emergency medical care to the inured. For now, tarpaulin sheets will be distributed to 1,600 families until the needs assessment is done and larger intervention plans are outlined.
Commenting on this intervention, QRC Secretary-General, Saleh bin Ali Al-Mohannadi, said:
We have been present in Myanmar since September 2012, and we have a representative office there to supervise our relief and development projects in favor of the communities affected by the three years of armed conflict. This helped us take action promptly during the current disaster, without having to wait for entry visas, approvals, mobilization of relief workers, etc.’
According to Al-Mohannadi, QRC is the only Qatari and Arab organization working in Myanmar. He welcomed cooperation with any Qatari or non-Qatari organization in relief projects for the affected by the recent floods there.
Thousands of people have been evacuated to higher ground and to temporary sites, including monasteries and schools. The population sheltering in temporary evacuation sites fluctuates as some choose to return home to recover belongings and look after their livestock and fields. Contamination of water sources is also an issue in many places, especially due to the reliance on community water ponds in many villages.
In Chin State, concerns of possible food shortages — especially in the city of Hakha — mean that short-term food assistance is vital, especially in hard-to-reach areas.
Since 2012, QRC has conducted many projects to help the population affected by the clashes in Rakhine State. Two framework agreements have been signed with the Myanmar Red Crescent Society to implement shelter, water and sanitation, medical care, non-food assistance, and economic empowerment projects at a total cost of $1,834,942 (QR 6,675,120), serving as many as 111,270 people, beside thousands of indirect beneficiaries.