Yangon, Myanmar, 17 May 2023 — On 14 May, Cyclone Mocha made landfall onto the coast of Rakhine State, where early reports from the State's capital, Sittwe, indicate destruction across the city. Humanitarian organisations are working to understand the full extent of the damage after the extreme wind estimated at 250 kmph speed damaged roads, power lines, communication infrastructure and houses, including makeshift shelters in camps for those internally displaced by ongoing conflict.
Myanmar's geography, with its low-lying areas, puts many communities, including people who are internally displaced, at high risk of flooding and mudslides. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is deeply concerned about these communities, especially those living in displacement camps.
The arrival of Cyclone Mocha worsens an already dire situation in Rakhine State. Currently, there are over 250,000 people, including Rohingya and others who were displaced due to conflict, residing in displacement camps under extremely harsh conditions including poor sanitation, lack of access to services and severe movement restrictions, making it difficult for them to access essential life-saving services.
The protracted conflict in Myanmar has weakened critical structures and systems required during crises like this, making the continuity of the health system a top priority in the affected townships of Sittwe, Ponnagyn, Minbya, Rathedaung, and Paletwa. To respond to the needs caused by Cyclone Mocha, the IRC has reassessed and prepositioned emergency personnel and supplies to ensure continued provision of services to those in need. These supplies include items like access to safe drinking water, oral rehydration sachets to prevent water-borne diseases, materials for emergency shelters, and hygiene kits for families. IRC teams are also prepared to deploy mobile health teams to affected communities, and deliver protection services - including psychological first aid - to women and girls.
Despite the best efforts of humanitarian response, it serves as a temporary solution for a deeply rooted crisis. The impact of Cyclone Mocha, combined with the ongoing conflict, is expected to significantly increase humanitarian needs. However, the current funding for the Humanitarian Response Plan is insufficient. With a mere 10% of the necessary funds available, there is an urgent requirement for substantial additional resources to address the heightened needs arising from the cyclone.”