FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM
A tropical depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone Mocha this week and is expected to make landfall between Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh and Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State on Sunday. Wind speeds near the center of the storm may reach up to 110 mph. The cyclone will strike areas of Burma and Bangladesh ravaged by conflict and displacement. Southeastern Bangladesh has nearly one million Rohingya living in congested refugee camps surrounding Cox’s Bazar. The refugees face precarious living conditions and are dependent on humanitarian assistance. The camps in Cox’s Bazar are vulnerable to flash flooding and landslides.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are 231,000 displaced persons (IDPs) in Burma’s Rakhine State, over 156,000 of which are stateless Rohingya. Many are confined to IDP camps where freedom of movement is restricted and they live in makeshift shelters. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) states that many of the IDP camps in Rakhine State are located in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to storm surges. Parallel administrations are being run by the Arakan Army (AA) and the military regime in Naypyidaw despite the AA and Burma Army agreeing to an informal ceasefire last November.
After making landfall on Sunday, Cyclone Mocha is predicted to move further inland towards Chin State, and could reach as far as Magway and southern Sagaing regions. These areas of the country have been the site of numerous arson attacks, massacres, and airstrikes, including one on Pa Zyi Gyi village April 11 where 170 people were killed. Over one million people remain displaced in Chin, Sagaing and Magway. Cyclone Mocha is likely to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation in both countries. Burma is one of the most impacted by natural disasters, according to the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU). Climate change is expected to intensify the country’s vulnerability. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people.