Khin Tharaphy Oo and Myat Swe | DMG
22 May, Sittwe
The onset of the southwest monsoon is due in the coming days, ushered in by Cyclone Amphan, according to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.
The department’s director general, Kyaw Moe Oo, said the southwest monsoon will advance across southern Arakan State between May 22-27 before pressing on to central and northern Arakan from May 28 to June 2.
“There is a risk of flooding this monsoon because Arakan is a region that gets more rain. That’s why the residents who are living near the rivers need to be on alert. They have to be careful of the storms,” he said.
Among Arakan State’s residents, internally displaced people (IDPs) are worried not only about flooding, but also ensuring that they have adequate roofs over their heads.
U Zaw Zaw Tun, secretary of the Rakhine Ethnics Congress, said: “IDPs only have the camps that are being rebuilt by the aid of the donors and the camps they are building by themselves. Only 20% of all camps are repaired now.”
Ma Aye Khaing, who has been staying at Taung Min Kalar camp in Kyauktaw Township, said shelters have gone without repair despite tarpaulin sheets being donated by the UN for the purpose, as many who received the tarps turned around and sold them to pay for living expenses.
“The UN gives tarpaulin sheets for shelters. They told us not to sell and we are given it to cover our house. But we have to sell it to pay for the land we live on. We have to give fees for land to the landlord every year. We are now living with torn roofs and walls during rainy and windy days,” she said.
Houses in the War Taung refugee camps are being repaired by the inhabitants themselves, but not all are getting fixed up ahead of the rainy season, said manager of the camp U Sein Shwe Bu.
“They have tarpaulin provided in previous years. They need bamboo and wood to repair houses. People who struggle for food can’t repair houses either,” he said.
Bamboo, timber and tarpaulin are also needed to repair houses at Yan Aung Pyin and Ahtet Myat Lay camps in Mrauk-U and Ponnagyun townships, managers of the camps said.
IDPs who have been sheltering in schools are particularly worried about what the coming months might bring, with classes set to resume in July.
U Oo Tun Win, the Pyithu Hluttaw lawmaker for Kyauktaw Township, told DMG last month that thousands of IDPs living in schools in Kyauktaw town would need to move out when the schools reopen.
According to a recent statement from the Rakhine Ethnics Congress, conflict between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw has displaced more than 164,000 people across Arakan State, with the IDPs staying in schools, monasteries and over 150 camps, or seeking shelter in the homes of relatives and neighbours.