Vox Pop: Social activists on front lines of Arakan State’s cyclone relief response

By Admin 27 Jun 2023

Vox Pop: Social activists on front lines of Arakan State’s cyclone relief response

DMG Newsroom
27 June 2023, Sittwe

Cyclone Mocha damaged or destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes in Arakan State. More than 1.2 million people were affected by Cyclone Mocha in Arakan State, many of whom continue to have pressing humanitarian needs more than six weeks after the storm hit.

The junta and the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) have been providing food, shelter and other relief items to the storm victims, but humanitarian assistance is still needed. DMG interviewed some social workers about their on-the-ground experiences helping those affected by the cyclone.

U Khaing Pyi Soe || Arakan National Party

I think the military junta needs to focus on the people rather than effectively doing the rehabilitations in the rural areas affected by the storm. The storm victims reportedly have to repair their damaged homes on a self-reliant basis. The military junta cannot do rehabilitation effectively in Sittwe, so it is even worse in the rural areas, far away from the administration.

Ma Aye Aye Mar || Social Activist

The main needs now are drinking water, food and shelters. Everything that has been destroyed by the cyclonic storm needs help from those who can to rehabilitate it. Farmlands were destroyed and cattle were killed by the storm. 

As for us, we provide clean drinking water to those who really need it. We also donate food and shelters to those in need. We usually go to remote villages in Ponnagyun Township to donate drinking water to the storm victims.

Ko Win Hlaing || Mrauk-U Youths Association

We make field trips to donate relief items to the storm victims. We also donate drinking water to people in some villages. Our main difficulty is money. People in storm-hit areas are in need of shelters, drinking water and food supplies. 

Every village has its own difficulty. To solve these difficulties, it will take time and we will need financial resources as well as human resources. I don’t think it can be solved immediately when the losses are so large. Currently, the junta is not doing anything carefully or effectively.

Sittwe Resident || Arakan Youth Organizations Network

When you go to rescue areas affected by the current storm, the difficulty is that you can’t get enough relief items. When buying food, the prices are rising, and when it comes to transporting things, there are inconveniences like travel expenses. 

Another thing is that everyone was affected by the impacts of Cyclone Mocha, but when we give food aid, we are not able to give it to everyone. All the storm victims wanted relief items, but we were really sad when we couldn’t give them to everyone. The first needs of the locals are food, shelter and drinking water.

A local woman in Sittwe

We went to some villages in Pauktaw Township to donate relief items to the storm victims. We provided a total of 1,057 people from three villages with rice and cooking oil. As we are young people, we donated with the belief that if we don’t help each other, who will come and help us in Arakan State. We went to Pauktaw with the intention that our donation would be beneficial to the villagers.