Villager describes latest situation in Bogalay

May 14, 2008 (DVB), Cyclone victims taking refuge in Bogalay are still suffering food shortages and being forced to relocate, a villager from Bogalay township told DVB yesterday evening.

The villager repeated earlier claims by local residents that officials have been trading relief supplies intended for the refugees.

"[The authorities] make deals at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and send materials in bullock carts at 4.30 to 5am to an area near the market in the town centre where there are Chinese shops," the villager said.

"You can buy aid materials for refugees from these shops, such as rolls of tarpaulin."

While local shops have been selling relief supplies, refugees have received only small amounts of rice and some wards were given cooking oil yesterday, but poorer people have received less, the villager said.

Cyclone survivors who had fled to Bogalay continue to be forced to go to Ma-Upin or told to return to their villages.

"A judge from Bogalay named Deintaw Aung and the chief of police told refugees to follow them [for relocation] or they would be driven back to their villages," the villager said.

"The villagers can't go back to their village as there is no water or food so they have been wandering here and there."

Some refugees are afraid of being sent to Ma-Upin, due to rumours circulating that around 500 women and 1000 men were forced to work in quarries there.

The villager said the refugees did not have adequate food or shelter from the continued rain.

"The refugees are not only without food, they have are also been forced to do things and driven out of the monasteries and churches," the villager said.

"They have no village to go back to. [Drinking] water ponds have been ruined by salt water. They have done nothing in Kalabalu village and the nearby areas," the villager continued.

"The other day, a helicopter came over and five boxes of tinned fish and five boxes of instant noodles were dropped – that's all. People have to beg for food."

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