A tropical storm hit the coast of Myanmar today, submerging parts of the port city of Sittwe. Typhoon Mocha reached the mainland and destroyed tin roofs with winds of up to 210 kilometers per hour. A cell phone tower also fell.
In Sittwe, the ground floors of several buildings were flooded, as video from eyewitnesses showed. About 400,000 people in Myanmar and in the neighboring low-lying country of Bangladesh have been evacuated to safety amid fears of one of the strongest storms in the region in years.
According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about six million people in northwest Myanmar and in Rakhine State already depend on humanitarian aid. “For a cyclone to hit an area that already has great humanitarian needs is a nightmare scenario,” said UN coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan. Hundreds of thousands of people already at risk are affected.
danger to the Rohingya refugees
According to aid workers, more than a million Rohingya refugees, including half a million children, who live in camps in the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, are also at risk. “Vulnerable people are being taken to safe shelters and we are also collecting aid packages,” said Farah Kabir of ActionAid in Bangladesh.
Most of the refugees live in temporary shelters in overcrowded camps. In 2017, members of the Rohingya Muslim minority fled a military operation in Myanmar. “The winds are getting stronger,” said refugee Mohamed Essais, 21. “Our shelter made of bamboo and tarpaulin offers a little protection. We ask God to save us.”
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