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Over 20,000 people flooded out of their homes in Arakan State

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Over 20,000 people flooded out of their homes in Arakan State
July 08
14:20 2016

As the water continues to rise in parts of flood-hit Arakan (Rakhine) State, the number of displaced people has grown dramatically over the past few days. More than 20,000 people across five townships have now been evacuated or lost their homes after a storm that began earlier this week, according to the Department of Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw.

Arakan (Rakhine) State Chief Minister U Nyi Pu inspects humanitarian aid donations for flood victims in the state capital Akkyab (Sittwe) yesterday.

Though the heavy rains have stopped in areas affected by flooding in Arakan (Rakhine) State, more than 5000 houses were inundated and 19 were swept away in the recent floods, said Daw Phyu Phyu Tun, director of the department.

Minbya township took the brunt of the losses, with more than 12,000 people displaced and over 2800 homes flooded, she said yesterday. A township was second-hardest hit as more than 4500 people were displaced and 1100 houses were flooded.

Over 3600 people were displaced and 700 houses flooded in Mrauk-U township, while collectively in Kyauktaw and Buthidaung townships more than 1000 people were displaced and 220 homes inundated.

“We are providing emergency goods like instant food and water-purifying tablets,” Daw Phyu Phyu Tun said. “We are trying to reach people on the ground to provide relief.”

Plan International Myanmar, a children’s rights organisation, reported 12,200 people displaced over 41 villages across the state yesterday, referencing administrative officials in the flooded townships and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

UNOCHA’s public information and advocacy officer Pierre Peron said it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of displaced people at the moment because the areas most affected have been difficult to reach. Roads are blocked and some waters too dangerous to navigate by boat.

By yesterday, however, the floodwaters in some areas had begun to recede and the road to Mrauk-U township was reopened. Officials are now receiving reports that some people who were displaced by the flooding are beginning to return home, Mr Peron said.

The Arakan (Rakhine) State government has not yet issued statistics as to how many people were displaced or had their homes flooded.

Arakan (Rakhine) State Agriculture and Forestry Minister U Kyaw Lwin said government officials travelled to flood-affected areas in Minbya township to provide aid to the displaced, but he did not comment on how many people are currently out of their homes.

“We are trying our best to provide for them” was all he said.

U Hla Thein Aung, a Arakan (Rakhine) State parliamentarian from Minbya township and a member of the Arakan National Party, said many people are displaced and could not yet return home.

“People need aid but as far as I know they received it only from local civil society organisations,” he said.

Arakan (Rakhine) State was one of the provinces most severely impacted by widespread flooding in July and August 2015, with the landfall of Cyclone Komen bookended by weeks of heavy rains.

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