FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
Cyclone Mocha death toll continues to rise
The death toll from Cyclone Mocha has increased to 435 nationwide as of May 16, according to the National Unity Government (NUG). It is expected to rise as many remain missing. The NUG plans to provide $1 million USD in emergency funds to disaster-affected areas. The regime claimed that 11,532 houses, 120 religious buildings, 163 schools, 29 hospitals/clinics, and other buildings were damaged. It added Chin State’s Tedim, Paletwa, Matupi, and Hakha townships to its list of “disaster-affected areas” on May 16.
UN warns recovery efforts limited
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) appealed to the international community to fund relief efforts in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha on May 16. “Our Humanitarian Response Plan is less than 10 percent funded as it stands now, and we simply will not be able to respond to the additional needs from Mocha,” said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the U.N. Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar. Another U.N. official said that food assistance for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was cut by 17 percent earlier this year. Rohingya in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Rakhine State were also disproportionately affected by the cyclone. The U.N. stated that those displaced by the storm are in need of shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses.
Burma News International wins award
Burma News International (BNI) was awarded the Hiroshima Foundation Award 2023. The Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture awards individuals and groups that help foster dialogue, peace, and understanding in conflict areas. BNI received the award for its “commitment to peace-building, human rights, and democracy in Myanmar.” BNI is a network of 16 national, regional and state-based media outlets established in 2003.
New law to prosecute schools ‘involved in politics’
Min Aung Hlaing enacted a new Private School Registration Law that will prosecute private schools that teach politics “in opposition to the national policy.” Violators of the law must serve a minimum of six months to one year imprisonment and/or K3 million to K5 million ($1,425 to 2,375 USD) of fines. In 2022, the regime forced 16 private schools in Naypyidaw to shut down for allegedly being involved in politics.
News by Region
KAREN—More than 8,000 residents in Karen National Union (KNU) territory were forced to flee their homes after fighting between the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) the Burma Army intensified on May 14. Fighting between the Burma Army and the KNLA occurred in Yae Oh Sin village on May 11 and Mee Taing Taw village on May 13. The Burma Army is currently deployed in Kyaung Su village, where it has been attacking civilians in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha, according to locals.
An airstrike occurred south of Myawaddy town near the Thai-Burma border on May 17. The exact casualties are unknown. “They might have assumed that local resistance forces were deployed there. Even our house shook because of the explosion,” a Burma national who lives across the border in Mae Sot, Thailand said.
KARENNI—A woman was killed and four men were injured after an airstrike on Saw Lon village, Bawlakhe Township May 17. Two community health centers and six houses were destroyed. “Two bombs dropped in the middle of the village. There was no fighting taking place after May 13. They wanted to scare people by bombing in the early morning,” said a spokesperson from a resistance group in Bawlakhe Township.
MANDALAY—Pagodas and the temples in the World Heritage Site of Bagan were damaged by winds and flooding caused by Cyclone Mocha, regime media reported. At least eight were damaged. Nyang-U Fire Brigade group reported that it has pumped water from pagoda and temple compounds. Archaeologists warned that the ancient structures could be harmed if proper maintenance is not conducted.
RAKHINE—Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) have been barred from entering Rakhine State. “I don’t know what the government is doing, but NGOs and CSOs have been forced to turn back,” said a member of a local relief group. The regime claimed that it has organized relief efforts, but local news outlets have shared photos showing roads still blocked by fallen trees and electricity poles. “Local relief groups are mostly the ones cleaning debris,” said a Sittwe resident.
The Rakhine State Education Office is working to ensure that students can attend classes despite many schools in Rakhine State being damaged or destroyed by Cyclone Mocha. It is planning to enroll students on May 23 for the 2023-2024 academic year. “Even if documents were destroyed, we can do enrollments by checking previous school records. There are guidelines to provide more support for the children who were affected by the storm,” said an education office spokesperson.
Flights to Sittwe will resume on May 18, according to an Air KBZ airline ticket sales agent. The flight suspension began on May 13 ahead of Cyclone Mocha. Buses resumed operations on May 16.
SAGAING—The Burma Army raided a resistance group camp in Monywa Township on May 15. The group claimed it lost K40 million ($19,000 USD) worth of weapons, medicine, food and uniforms.