UNHCR assists cyclone, flood victims in Myanmar's Rakhine and Kachin states

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Cyclone Komen, which swept across western Myanmar states late last week is now known to have caused extensive damage, including to areas that are home to thousands of displaced people. UNHCR and partners are still assessing the impact on the existing displaced populations in Rakhine and Kachin states, with a view to identifying immediate needs and distributing relief.

Strong winds, heavy rains and serious flooding continue to hamper assessment and relief efforts in some areas. Rakhine state has been declared one of four "natural disaster zones" by the Myanmar Government, alongside Chin state and Sagaing and Magway regions.

So far teams comprising UNHCR, other UN and NGO staff have been able to reach camps for internally displaced people in Rakhine's provincial capital Sittwe, as well as in nearby townships such as Pauktaw and Myebon. In the 24 camps assessed so far, a quarter of the temporary shelters are damaged, and more than 21,000 displaced people affected as a result. Several years on from their construction, many of these shelters had become fragile and unable to withstand severe weather.

UNHCR teams are at present assessing the situation in camps for the internally displaced in Minbya, Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw. These areas are accessible only by boat and we were able to go yesterday after clearing debris from waterways. Once the assessments are completed UNHCR will distribute relief aid.

In Maungdaw township, over 2,000 households have been affected. Receding flood waters have allowed many evacuated families to return home in the last two days. UNHCR has distributed relief aid including tarpaulins, blankets, mats and buckets to those hosted in official reception centres as well as others who have been affected.

Parts of Buthidaung township remain underwater. UN and NGO staff have reached 68 villages so far and found over 18,000 people displaced by the floods. As assessments continue, we are distributing tarpaulins and mats to those affected.

In Kachin state, home to over 100,000 conflict-displaced people, the impact of recent rains and floods has been less extensive. At the government's request, UNHCR and partner agencies have examined conditions in Mogaung township. Of the four IDP camps visited, one was flooded and nine displaced families were relocated. UNHCR has also distributed relief supplies in the affected areas.

UNHCR's assistance to people affected by the cyclone and floods is part of a wider inter-agency response to support the Myanmar government's relief efforts. As with previous responses, we are distributing aid to all affected communities where we have a presence. UNHCR continues to work with the authorities to find longer-term solutions to situations of internal displacement.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Myanmar: Kasita Rochanakorn, +95 944 802 7892
  • In Thailand (regional office): Vivian Tan, +66 818 270 280