July 14, Editorial, DMG
The fighting between the Myanmar Army and Arakan Army (AA) has been going on for more than seven months. During the fighting, more than 50,000 people have suffered many problems, including evacuating theirs homes and living in IDP camps. Not less than 15 residents have died while being detained and questioned by Tatmadaw officials, and not less than 10 people have died at the hands of unknown murderers. Dozens of residents have been detained and are facing charges under the Unlawful Associations Act.
Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships have been most affected by the fighting. Many residents of Arakan have suffered human rights abuses due to armed conflicts. Some villages have been burned, and piles of straw kept by farmers for their cattle during rainy season have also been incinerated during the military operations by Tatmadaw soldiers. Since the farmers were forced to stop farming, there are likely to be food shortages in not only Northern Arakan but the entire Arakan State.
While people living in Northern Arakan State are already suffering due to the civil war, continuous rain has pushed the level of the Lay Myo and Kaladan rivers to dangerous levels. Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw and Minbya townships have been most affected.
The flooding has forced all bus lines to stop running on sections of the Yangon-Sittwe Highway. People living in IDP camps and flooded villages have been forced to seek refuge in nearby monasteries and higher ground. The Tin Nyo and Sin Baw Kaing IDP camps, which are among the largest, have seen the worst conditions. If the rain continues, IDPs elsewhere will also face flooding.
In addition, the government blocked Internet access in Arakan State and have also frozen out international donor organizations that can support IDPs’ needs, people living in IDP camps are facing many difficulties finding food, clothing and accommodations. Education, healthcare and other social issues are also in jeopardy.
The IDP camps were already in a poor state, facing shortages of food and medicine, and now they had to move to new locations because of flooding. It became a central issue to relocate IDP camps in Mrauk-U and Minbya townships which face the possibility of flooding. The Arakan State government needs to cooperate with international donor organizations, local and non-local CSOs, and business owners.
Most of the IDPs are women, children, elderly and disabled, so it’s important that emergency plans are made and camps are watched closely in case emergency assistance is needed.
People who are already facing difficulties because of the fighting between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army are now facing more problems because of the flooding. That means people have more problems piled up on top of their original problems. Since these situations have become almost out of control the DMG urges the Arakan State government to give timely assistance to the public who are suffering from both conflicts and flooding.