Rohingya boat capsizes after attempts to escape looming cyclone in Myanmar

The news of the impending cyclone to hit Myanmar on Thursday has shaken the Rohingya community, giving rise to further fears that they will be defenceless to protect what little they have left.

Today our sources have informed in detail that 7 boats left Pauktaw township from paddy fields carrying both Rohingya and Kaman people. The boat intended to travel north to near the Rauthedaung camps to flee from not only the incoming storm but to also escape the local authorities planning on relocating the Rohingya to lower lying land. All but one of seven boats reached Rauthedaung. The seventh boat capsized and though 5 people had been rescued by military and coastal guard boats in the area of Sindmaw, it is feared that 45 people may be dead after the search was called off after just three hours due to the severity of the storms.

We have been informed that as a precaution to the looming cyclone, the government have taken protective measures for the Rakhine living in Sittwe. Meanwhile, those residing in the IDP camps registered and unregistered are left even more vulnerable to the elements as their drenched huts collapse before them.

Yesterday we were told that the local authorities had attempted to move 350 Rohingya to no.20 LIR military camp. The Rohingya are growing increasingly fearful that this new vulnerable circumstance will be used by the local officials to further unleash arbitrary attacks on them.

In other areas, the authorities from Myay Bone township, evacuated the Buddhist Rakhine to a safer area. Whilst the Rohingya were also told that they too would be promised safety, no action as of yet has been taken to implement this.

It also emerged that Rohingya from the Buthitaung and Maungdaw townships (northern Sittwe) were also promised passage to safety, yet it was intended for them to be moved near to the coast, where of course it will be most affected by the storms. The Rohingya had refused to be evacuated and said to the local authorities:

"We will die here together. Only Allah (God) will help us. We put our lives to Allah's hand ".

The impending cyclone will undoubtedly take the lives of the most vulnerable groups of people in Myanmar, those who already live in fractured states, barely having access to food and clean water and medical supplies. As in any situation, equal protection by the local and central government must be the main priority, as further ignorance will only lead to more lives being claimed unnecessarily.

Comments

Mabrur Ahmed

The real question to be posed is why this wasnt better planned for by Central Government. Its not the first time Arakan has had to deal with monsoons - why is it that such last minute action is used at times like this? It beggars belief that this same Thein Sein government claims to provide any sort of protection.

14 May 2013 delete