Myanmar bears the brunt of deadly Cyclone Mocha

By Islamic Relief

Myanmar bears the brunt of deadly Cyclone Mocha

Coastal and Rohingya refugee communities in Bangladesh were struck by Cyclone Mocha, while Myanmar sustained ‘massive devastation’, Islamic Relief reports.

 Islamic Relief deployed emergency teams to help communities in the path of the powerful storm in south-eastern Bangladesh. Scores of aid workers and volunteers worked tirelessly, preparing to assist families with shelter materials, food, and hygiene supplies.

With up to 1 million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar facing the storm with only flimsy bamboo structures for shelter, the world’s largest refugee camp was a particular priority. Reliant on government and humanitarian aid for survival, refugees already faced dire living conditions. Hunger was already a constant presence for most, especially since recent funding shortfalls saw food rations cut by 17%, with a further cut planned from June taking the total cuts to one-third.

As Cyclone Mocha swept ashore on 14 May, storm-force winds inflicted damage but thankfully fell short of widespread devastation.

“There were power cuts and the winds damaged over 2,000 shelters. The storm did not inflict the widespread damage we feared in Cox’s Bazar – instead, the eye of the storm centered on Sittwe, in neighboring Myanmar. Early reports indicate massive devastation in Rakhine State, Myanmar. We are waiting for communication and access to be fully restored to understand the full extent of the disaster,” says Shabel Firuz, Islamic Relief’s head of the Asia region.

Wind speeds of around 130 mph battered homes, toppled power lines, and tore apart the roofs of even sturdy houses. Islamic Relief remains very concerned in particular about the state of camps sheltering uprooted Rohingya families and those living in rural villages. So far 6 people are reported to have died and localized flooding continues to devastate low-lying areas.

Even before Cyclone Mocha, up to 17.6 million people needed humanitarian aid in Myanmar – a number Islamic Relief expects to soar in the aftermath of this latest disaster. Working through local partners, IRW is gearing up to provide much-needed assistance, particularly food aid, as soon as possible.