Tuesday, 19 November 2019

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Evacuate Rohingya immediately: rights group


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the Myanmar government to take immediate action to evacuate the tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya in Rakhine State ahead of Cyclone Mahasen.

One month after Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, debris still lies strewn across a village in the Irrawaddy delta. (Photo: Mizzima)
One month after Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, debris still lies strewn across a village in the Irrawaddy delta. (Photo: Mizzima)
“The Burmese [Myanmar] government didn’t heed the repeated warnings by governments and humanitarian aid groups to relocate displaced Muslims ahead of Burma’s rainy season,” said Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, in a statement on May 14. “If the government fails to evacuate those at risk, any disaster that results will not be natural, but man-made.”

The latest pleas from the New York-based advocacy group came as a boat carrying 150 Rohingya Muslims while evacuating people ahead of the incoming storm sank off the west coast of Myanmar. The number of casualties and persons missing is yet unknown.

The boat struck rocks off Pauktaw Township in Rakhine State and sank late on Monday as “they were travelling to another camp ahead of the cyclone,” a representative from Myanmar’s UNOCHA office told AFP.

In a statement released on Monday night, the Myanmar government announced that the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee led by Myanmar’s Vice-President Nyan Tun had initiated preparations for the potential impact of the cyclone.
 
“The administration team comprising has been tasked with giving close supervision based in Rakhine State as of 14 May,” said the statement.
 
Rakhine Coast and along coastal areas of the Delta Region are likely to see high tide with strong wind during the storm and people living in huts and makeshift tents within Rakhine State have been instructed to move to safety by May 14 and 15, said the statement.
 
The government announcement said that military and emergency rescue teams have been readied.

Myanmar's Department of Meteorology posted at 5:30 am, Myanmar time, on Tuesday, that “the Cyclonic Storm (MAHASEN) over Southeast Bay is centered at about 430 miles, southwest of Coco-Island, Myanmar and 480 miles, southeast of Chennai, India. The Cyclonic Storm (MAHASEN) is moving Northwestwards with maximum wind speed is estimated 50-60 miles per hour near the cyclone center.”

The department's brief said that the storm “is likely to intensify further into a Severe Cyclonic Storm within next 24-hours”.

For more background:
  1. Refugees at risk as cyclone nears
  2. Cyclone threatens Rakhine State
 

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