A bridge destroyed by a landslide at Khaung Dote Khar Rohingya refugee camp in Sittwe, Myanmar, on May 15 after Cyclone Mocha.
The UN warned that Cyclone Mocha killed 145 people as it tore through Burma, mostly Rohingya, according to the military junta balancing power, and at least 800,000 people needed emergency food aid.
“A total of 145 people died in the cyclone,” according to a statement by the military junta, the most powerful storm to hit Myanmar and Bangladesh in the past decade. The last remaining reported 80 deaths.
The cyclone hit Burma and Bangladesh last Sunday, bringing torrential rain and winds up to 195 km/h, inundating buildings and roads.
The most violent storm in the region in more than 10 years has devastated villages and cut communications across much of Rakhine state, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya live in camps for people displaced by decades of ethnic conflict.
The junta’s information team said, “According to the information we have received, four soldiers, 24 residents and 117 ‘Bengali’ died in the storm”, using a derogatory term to refer to the minority Muslim Rohingya.
According to Amnesty International, some 600,000 Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations “under an apartheid regime,” denied access to health and education.
– Emergency assistance –
The World Food Program (WFP) is present in Burma, but it now needs millions of resources to provide food aid to 2.1 million people, including the 800,000 affected by the devastating cyclone, which also hit Bangladesh.
“At least 800,000 people are in need of emergency food assistance,” Anthea Webb, WFP’s deputy director for Asia and the Pacific, told the regular UN briefing in Geneva.
Webb said the military authorities who seized power in Burma in a coup on February 1, 2021, authorized WFP to reach the most affected areas, which are also places where government forces conduct violent actions.
The military junta’s statement indicated that the information circulated by the media about the death of 400 Rohingyas is “false” and that action would be taken against the press organs that published them.
Since the coup more than two years ago, military rulers have detained dozens of journalists and shut down media outlets critical of their rule.
According to junta-backed media, ships and the air force brought thousands of sacks of rice and deployed firefighters and rescue workers to Rakhine.
In neighboring Bangladesh, officials told AFP that no one had been killed during the cyclone, which passed close to vast refugee camps home to some one million Rohingyas who fled Myanmar’s military crackdown in 2017.