Monday, May 20, 2013

After Cyclone Mahasen, Myanmar camps face monsoon threat

The Times of India via AFP: Myanmar's victims of sectarian strife were spared the full force of Cyclone Mahasen, but many are now returning to flimsy tents in flood-prone camps with the monsoon just weeks away.

Myanmar's Rakhine state is pockmarked with makeshift settlements for up to 140,000 people -- mainly Rohingya Muslims -- displaced by sectarian unrest last year that claimed about 200 lives and saw whole villages razed.

Many were evacuated last week ahead of Cyclone Mahasen, which later veered into neighbouring Bangladesh. But most have now returned, according to Kirsten Mildren of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"They are actually no better off than where they were last week before the storm," she said, adding the cyclone was simply a "dress rehearsal" for the rainy season -- set to hit in a few weeks.

Many of the camps consist of little more than ramshackle bivouacs of bamboo and tarpaulin flung up in soggy paddy fields.  Sanitation is a key concern. Rain last week left standing water in many of the camps and Mildren said water-born diseases such as cholera were a particular fear...

Cyclone Mahasen on May 13, 2013

No comments: