Burma’s government believes that 69 people have now been killed as floodwaters have swept 12 states and regions of the country over the past month.
The number of people affected has also risen, up to 260,000, according to Burma’s Ministry of Relief and Resettlement.
Suffering the worst of the flooding has been Arakan State, where 47 have now been confirmed dead and 13,000 people affected, according to the government.
More than 100,000 people live in displacement camps in Burma’s westernmost region, after communal violence flared three years ago.
“The flooding has affected all the communities in Rakhine [Arakan] State, particularly in Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw, where we see really significant flooding affecting thousands of people,” said Pierre Peron of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“We’ve had a very difficult time reaching many of these areas. Our UN and NGO assessment teams are only just reaching many of these areas; they have been trying to get to those locations by boat over the past days but the waterways are extremely precarious at the moment and there is a lot of debris, and so many times they’ve had to turn around. But we now have some assessment teams in those locations and they are reporting back now,” said Peron, speaking to DVB on Tuesday.
As floodwaters retreat in some areas of Arakan State, the full impact of the deadly floods is beginning to sink in.
“We didn’t die because we evacuated to the hill due to me having a baby. We have nothing left now. I don’t even have a bra, and I don’t have a longyi [Burmese sarong]. There is nothing left,” said Aye Saw, a 26-year-old local resident.
Half a million acres of farmland have been damaged across the country. Lower Sagaing Division was declared a disaster zone; it is one of the major regions for rice cultivation in Burma.
Over the weekend, President Thein Sein visited Kale [also spelled Kalay], one of the worst hit towns in Sagaing. But as of 4 August, residents maintain that they have not received support from the government.
“We’ve had no help from the government – just meals have been donated [by locals],” said a Kale woman who lost her home to the flood.
“What can we do? When they didn’t come to rescue us we could only just escape with our lives. Nobody came to rescue us. There was no help when I got to the refugee camp either.”
International donors have responded to the Burmese government’s plea for aid.
Australia and Norway have each pledged over US$1 million to help relief efforts.
As of 2 August, Burma’s government had figured the damage at US$7 million in Arakan State alone. The figure climbs to US$10 million nationwide. Apart from the 47 deaths in Arakan, 22 others lost their lives across the country: seven in Sagaing Division; eight in Mandalay Division; five in Shan State; and one each in Kachin State and Irrawaddy Division.