Flood Victims in Burma’s North Short on Food

Flooding along a stretch of the Irrawaddy River from Myitkyina to Mandalay has left many struggling to find food and shelter.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Towns and cities along the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River, from the Kachin State capital Myitkyina to Thabeikkyin in Mandalay Region, have been severely flooded over the past week, with water levels continuing to rise in some areas.

Although the water has receded below the warning level of 1,200 cm in Myitkyina since last Friday, when it reached 1,205 cm, farther downstream many local residents have been forced to flee their homes since the start of last weekend.

Bhamo Township, in southern Kachin State, has been particularly hard hit, with many homes completely inundated after the river overflowed its banks there on Saturday.

Four wards in the town of Bhamo are now under water, leaving many to fend for themselves as relief efforts fall short of meeting the needs of local people affected by the flooding.

“The water is continuing to rise on the Irrawaddy River, so Bhamo is severely flooded. Water has already gotten into our house. We have an urgent need for food. We are worried about our children and the elderly,” Bhamo resident Tu Rein told NMG.

According to the government’s Meteorology and Weather Forecast Department, the warning level for Bhamo is 1,150 cm. The water level was measured at 1,220 cm at 4:30pm on Tuesday, and still shows no signs of receding.

The four wards most affected by the flooding are Kyun Tha, Tatkalay, Sinkong and Bahadee. Tayoktan (Chinatown) in downtown Bhamo is also largely under water.

“Flood victims from Sinkong and Bahadee have not received any food assistance. We had to relocate by ourselves. Residents of Kyun Tha and Tatkalay are staying in monasteries, where they have been given been given packs of cooked rice. Nobody has come to help us. The local government has provided some cooked rice, but it’s not enough for everyone,” Bhamo resident La Awng told NMG.

Water levels are also rising in Shwegu in Kachin State, Katha in Sagaing Region, and Thabeikkyin in Mandalay Region, according to the Meteorology and Weather Forecast Department.

Many other areas of the country have also been hit by flooding, including Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships in Rakhine State, and parts of Chin and Mon states.

According to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, more than 20,000 people have been rescued from flooding since the start of this year’s rainy season.