Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar (28 May 2023)
Bi-Weekly Updates on Current Situation in Myanmar
More than twenty-seven months ago, on 1 February 2021, the Myanmar military attempted an illegal coup, toppled the democratically elected civilian government, and unlawfully and unjustly detained State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and other senior members of the civilian government, parliamentarians and activists. Since then, the Myanmar military has ignored the will of the people of Myanmar, placed the country in turmoil, and made the people suffer with inhumane and disproportionate actions.
As of 26 May 2023, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), 3,580 people have been ruthlessly killed by the military, whereas 22,726 people have been arrested and a total of 156 individuals have been sentenced to death, of which 114 (including two children) are detained and 42 remain in absentia since 1 February 2021, when the military unleashed systematic and targeted attacks and violence against innocent civilians. Four democracy activists who were given death sentences were executed by the military junta in July 2022.
Atrocities committed by the military
Raiding, killing, arresting, torching and looting villages in Sagaing Region
On 11 May 2023, during the junta’s raid into Ngar Shan Village, Chaung-U Township in Sagaing Region, they torched the houses in the village and fired heavy weaponry indiscriminately. Those shootings killed a local named San Linn on the spot and seriously injured his wife.
From 18 to 21 May 2023, a total of over 100 personnel, from a military column of Light Infantry Battalion-368 and Pyu Saw Htee militiamen, raided and set fire to Ma Gyi Kone, Su Tat, Hpoke Kone, Bote Kone and Pyit Taing Htaung Villages in Zee Kone Rural Area, Kanbalu Township, Sagaing Region. During those four-day raids, many houses in those villages were burned down and locals fled for safety.
According to news, on 23 May 2023, around 75 troops of the military and pro-junta Pyu Saw Htee militia members raided Taung Mwhar Village in northern Ayadaw Township, Sagaing Region. Due to its indiscriminate shelling, five civilians, including four elderly people were killed. Among the five being killed, Ko Min Min, 30, was shot dead while trying to escape the raid and U Hla Htay, 80, was killed when a shell hit his house. U Yar Nyunt, 75, died from a heart attack during the raid. Two other victims, Daw Khin Sein and Daw Aye Htoke, both around 70, were killed in the fire set by the junta troops on 24 May 2023. The junta troops also seized eight villagers as hostages, according to residents where seven of them were released with wounds on 25 May and one was still being held at the time of reporting. According to a local resident, troops occupied the village monastery for the day, searched houses and looted the monks’ phones. According to villagers, Taung Mwhar village had around 400 houses of which around 150 were burned. The fires were not extinguished until 25 May 2023 and at least four or five goat farms, crops and machinery were destroyed. The junta troops reportedly moved 2 km to Kyaway Bagan Village on 24 May and burned around nine houses. Thousands of civilians from six villages in northern Ayadaw have fled their houses since the military raids. The troops reportedly raided and torched Ma Kye Sout Village in southern Ayadaw on 25 May.
Raiding, arresting, torching and looting villages in Magway Region
According to the Irrawaddy News, around 200 junta troops raided and torched 10 villages in Yesagyo Township, Magwe Region which are at the border with Myaung Township in Sagaing Region within two days. They began the raids on 26 May 2023 in the morning after shelling the area. According to Yay Lal Kyun People’s Defense Force, due to those attacks, a mother of two, Daw Khin Aye Po, 38, from Mi Pha Yar village was killed and a 12-year-old in Mae Kone Village was injured. According to Ko Nway Oo, leader of the Civilian Defense and Security Organization of Myaung resistance group, a child from Mae Kone Village and an elderly woman and two others from Hlay Khoke village were also reportedly killed on that day. On 26 May 2023 alone, the junta torched five villages, including Nwet Ni, Mi Pha Yar and Sin Te, displacing residents across the area. Many civilian houses and a clinic in Nwet Ni were burned down. On 27 May 2023, the soldiers burned down five more villages in the area. Junta troops occupied a Myaung village school run by the National Unity Government for a night and destroyed it when they left.
Shooting and killing in Yinmarbin Township, Sagaing Region
On the morning of 12 May 2023, around 100 junta soldiers opened fire at a house hosting a remembrance prayer, where alms were being offered to monks (traditionally, food alms are offered to monks on the seventh day of a persons’ death), in Htan Zin Village, Bant Bway Village Tract, Yinmarbin Township in Sagaing Region. As a result, two women were killed on the spot while a mother and her four-month-old baby were injured. During the treatment afterwards, the mother died.
Killing innocent civilians
News reported that on 10 May 2023, a clash broke out between the junta forces and a PDF coalition near Nyaung Pin Thar Village in Htantabin Township, Bago Region. Reportedly, junta forces captured eighteen locals, including 6 children of ages 18 and below, and set them on fire.
On the morning of 10 May 2023, junta forces raided Nyaung Zin Village in Thayetchaung Township, Tanintharyi Region. They arrested Tin Shein who was issued a warrant and his soon-to-be bride from Yan Taung Village, who were at Nyaung Zin Village for a photoshoot before their wedding. Then, on the evening of 11 May, Tin Shein was taken to his home in Yan Taung Village and was shot dead in front of his house.
Arresting innocent civilians
According to AAPP, on 8 May 2023, a coalition of Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and PDF attacked Infantry Battalion-97 of the junta forces, based in Kawkareik Town. Afterwards, from 9 to 11 March, district police force officers and Kawkareik Strategic Forces personnel arrested around 40 locals from Kawkareik Town and questioned them at Kawkareik Myoma Police Station. The arrested persons included businessmen, humanitarian rescue teams along with CDM workers, National League for Democracy members and anti-coup protesters. Reportedly, the family members of the arrested people were not allowed to see their detained relatives.
According to news, on 10 May 2023, a 60-year-old taxi driver Htay Lwin from To Village, Pala Town, Palaw Township in Tanintharyi Region was arrested by junta forces stationing at Pala Town, as he refused to do a delivery to No.285 Infantry Battalion based in Palaw Town. At the time of reporting, he has not been released, and his whereabouts were unknown.
News reported that, on 19 May 2023, junta forces came into Kyauk Kar Village, Palaw Township, Tanintharyi Region after an administration office in the village was bombed. On 20 May, seven locals, including a woman, were taken to Infantry Battalion-285 based in Palaw Town.
According to reports from local media and pro-junta news channels, on 24 May 2023, Myanmar junta forces arrested hip-hop artist Byuhar in Yangon for criticizing the junta’s inability to supply sufficient electricity for the country. Reportedly, on 23 May, the hip-hop artist, during his Facebook livestream, strongly criticized the military junta’s leaders and the junta-appointed Ministry of Electric Power for failing to supply enough electricity. The next day, a large number of junta forces arrested Byuhar after raiding his apartment in Yangon’s North Dagon Township.
Abducting civilians as human shields
According to the AAPP, on the morning of 17 May 2023, a military column of over 200 junta personnel from Division 33 captured around 40 locals from Nant Yar and Khin Taung Villages, in Hpakant Township, Kachin State and used them as human shields. The abducted victims included children, pregnant women and elderly people and their location was unknown at the time of reporting.
According to AAPP, on the morning of 18 May 2023, around 150 junta troops raided Kan Thar Kone Village, Shwebo Township, Sagaing Region, and set fire to houses. They took nearly 50 local residents, including children, as human shields, to Bo Te Kone Monastery in Nyaung Pin Thar Village.
According to the Documentation and Research Department of AAPP, the junta forces attacked Ta Mar Hkaw and Taung Su (West) Villages, Kyaukkyi Township, Bago Region, and captured civilians to use as human shields. As a result, around 800 locals from two villages were in fear and fled for safety.
Forcing local civilians to undergo military training
According to Irrawaddy News, Junta-affiliated Pyu Saw Htee militias have been forcing villagers in Kantbalu and Kyun Hla townships of Sagaing Region to undergo military training. The militias have been formed over the past two years by influential monk U Wasawa of the ultranationalist Association for Protection of Race and Religion, known locally as Ma Ba Tha, to counter anti-regime People’s Defense Forces (PDFs). News reported that on 15 May 2023, junta personnel forced residents of Htan Kone San Pya Village in Htan Kone district, western Kantbalu, to undergo military training. Residents were selected for the training via a lottery of households organized by the village head. According to the Kyun Hla activist group, selected households that did not contain any adult males will have to pay a monthly fine of 100,000 kyats (almost US$ 50). Some villagers reportedly signed up after junta forces threatened to torch their houses unless they took part in the training. According to the Infinity group, a local information network, more than 50 of Kantbalu Township’s 250 villages are currently controlled by Pyu Saw Htee. The group also said that residents in Pyu Saw Htee villages were banned from moving to other areas. The militia also demands monthly payments and threatens to burn the houses of villagers who don’t comply. On 27 May 2023, according to the Kyun Hla activist group, a lottery held by the head of Lae Hla Village in Kyun Hla Township selected 30 residents who will be forced to join Pyu Saw Htee orgainzed military training. It was reported that even all-female households will be forced to join the training and fines were not accepted. A Kyun Hla local said the Pyu Saw Htee militias are supplied with both weapons and pay by the military junta. It was also reported that some villagers fled because they didn’t want to join the Pyu Saw Htee after it began organizing in Lae Hla Village.
Raiding hospital in Chin State and captured medical personnels
According to AAPP, on the night of 21 May 2023, junta forces raided Agape Hospital in Zay Haung Ward, Hakha Town, Chin State, and captured Dr. Sicilia and four nurses namely Henny, Sianlun, Hniang Sung and J Mawi. At the time of reporting, they were being held at Hakha Township Police Station.
Airstrikes, heavy artillery, and other targeting of civilian areas
On 17 May 2023, without any clashes taking place, junta forces carried out aerial bombings with a fighter jet at Saw Lone Village, Bawlake Township, Kayah State. Due to those bombings, a seventeen-year-old Khin Shwe Win was killed, while her father and three other locals were injured.
According to AAPP, on 12 May 2023, around 50 junta personnel attacked Mohnyin Township, Kachin State and fired heavy weaponry indiscriminately. From the explosion of an artillery shell on a house in Nam Mar Town, Sein Win died from getting struck by the artillery shell shrapnel.
News reported that Myanmar junta airstrikes on Banmauk Township in Sagaing Region on 25 May 2023 killed two civilians: a 66-year-old man and 33-year-old woman from Naung Kan Village. According to the local residents, the airstrikes came after the clashes between the military and the Federal Revolution Force. The clashes reportedly started on 21 May when the resistance forces attacked over 100 Light Infantry Division 77 and Battalion 416 troops, who had been stationed in Kyaung Lal Village for weeks.
Internet blackout and violation of right to privacy
According to news from Myanmar Internet Project’s Digital Coup, on 5 May 2023, the users of ATOM mobile received SMS that contained the location and details of Atom Digital Stores nearby, asking them to re-register. It was believed that the locations of the users were continuously tracked and monitored. On 6 May 2023, according to the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Myanmar ranked 173. On 9 May 2023, in Monywa Town, there were difficulties to use mobile internet and starting from 1630 hrs., MPT internet lines were cut. On 13 May, due to internet blackout made by the junta, the civilians in Chin State encountered communication problems and were unable to get update news regarding Cyclone Mocha.
Charges against the anti-junta activists and NLD Representatives
According to the local news, on 10 May 2023, a township court subservient to the junta, sentenced Naing Min Htet, Nay Htet Linn and Min Htet Paing from Tin Thar Village, Kale Township, Sagaing Region, to each serve 2 years in prison under Section 505 A of the Penal Code. They were arrested at Pae Waing Checkpoint at the exit of Kale Town, on 1 April, for allegedly being PDF personnel.
According to AAPP, Kyaw Zay Ya, a Regional Hluttaw Representative of National League for Democracy Party in Pyay Township, Bago Region, was given two additional charges under Counter-Terrorism Law Section 49(a), by the prison court. He has faced trial for these charges on 19 May 2023. Reportedly, he was arrested on 9 June 2022, and was interrogated at both Ye Kyi Aing Interrogation Center in Yangon City, and Interrogation Center of Regional Operations Command in Pyay Town for over two months. On 12 December 2022, he was sentenced by Pyay Prison Court to serve 19 years in prison under six charges.
On 19 May 2023, Monywa Strike leader Wai Moe Naing was sentenced to serve an additional 20 years in prison under Section 122 of the Penal Code by Monywa Prison Court. He now has a total of 52 years of imprisonment. Wai Moe Naing was hit by a junta’s car, beaten and arrested by the junta while participating in the peaceful protest in Monywa Town, Sagaing Region on April 15, 2021. The previous charges he was sentenced were: 10 years in prison under 5 charges of Section 505 A of the Penal Code; 2 years in prison under Section 25 of the Natural Disaster Management Law and 20 years in prison under Sections 505 A, 148, 323(a), 395 and 397 of the Penal Code.
Activities of the National Unity Government
On 15 May 2023, the NUG’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management released the Situation Report on the Super Cyclone MOCHA’s Emergency Response (2). In the report, the situation update, together with the highlights, and the actions taken for emergency operations were informed. While detail information regarding the allocation of humanitarian assistance to different states and regions, the critical needs and challenges encountered were mentioned in the report. It also gives the contacts for donation of MOCHA cyclone emergency response.
On 16 May 2023, the NUG’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management released the Situation Report on the Super Cyclone MOCHA’s Emergency Response (3). According to its highlights, due to the significant impact of the Cyclone Mocha, it is estimated that roofing material, especially tarpaulins, for 500,000 households and emergency food and drinking water for about one million people is urgently required in Northern Rakhine State, and to date, no international organizations are delivering humanitarian aid in these affected areas although they stated that they are planning to conduct rapid needs assessments. The report also included the devastations in the aftermath of Cyclone Mocha, the needs in emergency, and the emergency response activities.
On 18 May 2023, the Ministry of Health of the National Unity Government released an announcement (5/2023) “Call for urgent international action to support Myanmar in emergency health response to Cyclone Mocha”. In the announcement, it was mentioned that the cyclone Mocha has been affecting seriously Rakhine State, Chin State, Sagaing Region and Magway Region and also some other parts of the country during its path. It added that millions of people will need humanitarian assistance and urgent medical supplies and emergency health care services. It stressed that people in Chin, Sagaing and Magway will suffer a double burden of humanitarian catastrophe as they suffered seriously from the inhumane attacks of the junta. It underlined that post disaster health care needs include direct effects of the cyclone such as injuries and disabilities, death, health infrastructure damage, disruption of medical services, etc. While recognizing the efforts taken by the UN agencies and international organizations, it reminded that UN agencies and international organizations need to be cautious and aware of the fact that the majority of high-risk areas affected by the Mocha are controlled by the revolution alliances and ethnic resistance organizations and are no longer under the full control of the junta military. It emphasized that the routine and previous way of communicating and supporting through the junta will not arrive to the affected population in those areas. It called upon the international actors and UN agencies including WHO to urgently collaborate with the Ministry of Health of the NUG for providing emergency medical supplies and other necessary assistance for emergency healthcare services, for all consequences of Cyclone Mocha.
On 20 May 2023, the Ministry of Health of the National Unity Government issued an announcement (6/2023). In the announcement, it informed that the terrorist military is repeatedly attacking and intentionally targeting the health facilities and health system by breaking Geneva Conventions, the UN Security Council’s Resolutions, and International Humanitarian and Human Rights laws. It stated that the junta launched airstrikes and dropped bombs on Saw Lon Village, Bawlakae Township, Karenni (Kayah) State on 17 May 2023 around 4 am. There was no fighting taking place at the time of airstrikes. It added that as a result of these bombings near a rural health center (RHC), a 17-year-old girl named Ms. Khin Shwe Win was dead and a total of four civilians (male) including the father of Ma Khin Shwe Win, were injured. These attacks almost destroyed the rural health center, staff housing, 6 civilian houses, one monastery, and the village’s drinking well, among others. The announcement further stated the terrorist military’s violent attacks and raids on the People's Healthcare Network (Kalay)’s Hospital (North) on 9 April 2023; unlawfully expelling the opening license of three private hospitals in Mandalay on 15 May 2023; and killing of 2nd year nursing student Maung Soe Moe Naing on 11 May 2023 while giving life-saving medical treatment to an injured comrade at the frontline area of Htilin township, Magway Region. As it expressed its deep condolences to the families of the victims Ma Khin Swe Win and Maung Soe Moe Naing, the NUG vowed to seek judicial redress for the lives of healthcare workers and pledged that the terrorist military council and its lackeys see justice served on them.
On 21 May 2023, the NUG’s President Office released an announcement no. (7/2023) regarding statement on the G7 Hiroshima Leaders' Communiqué issued on 20 May 2023. While welcoming that G7 Leaders' address of Myanmar in their Communiqué, it informed that the Communiqué confirmed G7 Leaders' solidarity with the Myanmar people and support for a genuine democratic path, as it called on the illegal military junta to immediately cease its violence and to release all political prisoners and arbitrarily detained persons. It also underlined that G7 Leaders urged all states to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar and to ensure full, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need. It was commented that the G7 should now act through a "three- track" policy on Myanmar that sets out direct actions, support for ASEAN, and complementary efforts through the international system. The NUG also extended its gratitude to G7 Leaders for their sustained support of a free and democratic Myanmar and expressed its readiness to partner with the G7 on all three proposed tracks.
On the same day, the NUG’s President Office released an announcement no. (8/2023) regarding the Quad Leaders’ Joint Statement. As the NUG welcomes Quad Leaders’ address of Myanmar in their Joint Statement issued on 20 May 2023, it informed that Quad Leaders affirmed their support for inclusive democracy in Myanmar, while expressing deep concern at the ‘deteriorating situation’. It also mentioned their call for an immediate cessation of violence, for the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, for unhindered humanitarian access, and for the full implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus.
It stated that Quad Leaders have assigned themselves a key role on Myanmar. It said that Australia, India, Japan and the United States should strengthen their collective engagement on Myanmar by providing direct humanitarian assistance, by bolstering the National Unity Government and its ethnic partners, by pushing for ASEAN progress, and by taking punitive action against the illegal military junta as a threat to peace, stability and security.
In the Weekly Press Update No.19/2023, the articles related to the National Unity Government’s (NUG) activities included the NUG establishing Township and District-level People’s Administration bodies, a meeting between NUG and Mr. Ban Ki-moon resulting in an agreement to establish a collaborative working relationship to discuss potential pathways toward resolving ongoing Myanmar crisis, Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun delivering statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on “Futureproofing Trust for Sustaining Peace” under the Agenda item “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace”, and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration noting that the SAC conducted arson attack and destroyed over 4,000 buildings including schools and clinics.
In the Weekly Press Update No.20/2023, the articles related to the National Unity Government’s (NUG) included the NUG launching 1 million USD fund for the Cyclone Mocha affected communities calling for international community’s humanitarian support, the NUG’s remark in response to the ASEAN Chair’s statement issued at the 42nd ASEAN Summit, the NUG’s minister’s remark regarding the SAC’s obstruction of the free movement of people and aid that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Rohingyas in Rakhine, distribution of humanitarian aid worth nearly 7 billion MMK during 2 years.
Actions and Remarks by the International Community in response to the Military Coup d’état
On 15 May 2023, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published “Weekly Highlights: Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced”. In the highlights it informed as follows: in the South-East, the number of IDPs decreased from 438,500 last week to 433,003 this week. In Bago Region (East), increased fighting near some villages, forced 170 IDPs from Thandaunggyi Township to flee to Taungoo town as secondary displacement; in Tanintharyi Region, stabilization of the security situation enabled about 5,500 IDPs to return to their places of origin. About 2,200 IDPs returned to Palaw Township, while 3,300 IDPs returned to Launglon Township; and in Kayin State, 70 IDPs from Kayin State were verified in Hlaingbwe Township because of armed conflict near their villages, including 40 IDPs from Hpapun Township, 30 IDPs from Myawaddy Township and two IDPs from Kyaukkyi Township in Bago Region (East).
On 17 May 2023, the United Nations published a press released titled “UN expert exposes $1 billion ‘death trade’ to Myanmar military”. In the press release, it was mentioned that according to a new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, the Myanmar military has imported at least $1 billion USD in arms and raw materials to manufacture weapons since the coup in February 2021. According to Mr. Andrews, those providing these weapons are able to avoid sanctions by using front companies and creating new ones while counting on lax enforcement. While mentioning that member states now need to step up and stop the flow of these arms, the expert pleaded for member states to enforce existing bans and to coordinate sanctions on arms dealers and foreign currency sources. The press release further stated that the Special Rapporteur’s paper identifies the major networks and companies involved in these transactions, known values of the transfers, and jurisdictions in which the networks operate, namely Russia, China, Singapore, Thailand, and India. The report examines why international sanctions on arms dealing networks have failed to stop or slow the flow of weapons to the Myanmar military. The Special Rapporteur said that by expanding and retooling sanctions and eliminating loopholes, governments can disrupt junta-linked weapons dealers. Andrews also stressed that member states have not adequately targeted key sources of foreign currency that the junta relies on to purchase arms, including most significantly Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise. He also highlighted that no Member State has imposed sanctions on Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) since the coup.
On 19 May 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore released a press statement regarding its spokesperson’s comment on the report of the UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews. In the press statement, it was mentioned that UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews noted in his report that the Singapore Government prohibits the transfer of arms to Myanmar. Singapore also does not authorise the transfer of dual-use items which have been assessed to have potential military application to Myanmar where there is a serious risk that they may be used to inflict violence against unarmed civilians. It added that Special Rapporteur Andrews has also noted that “there are no indications the Government of Singapore has approved, or is involved in, the shipment of arms and associated materials to the Myanmar military.” It further underlined that Singapore has taken a principled position against the Myanmar military’s use of lethal force against unarmed civilians and has worked to prevent the flow of arms into Myanmar as called for in UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution A/RES/75/287 “The Situation in Myanmar”. It also stated that Singapore will not hesitate to take action against any individual or entity which contravenes our laws. It stressed that in the meantime, the Singapore Government remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance to support the people of Myanmar and will continue to work with our fellow ASEAN Member States and the UN to facilitate peace and national reconciliation in Myanmar.
On 22 May 2023, the High Representative of the EU, Josep Borrell announced that the following countries have aligned themselves with the Council Decision which was adopted on 28 April 2023, concerning restrictive measures against Myanmar/Burma, and renewed the sanctions for another year: the candidate countries North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania Serbia,, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the potential candidate country Georgia; and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. These countries will implement national policies accordingly.
According to the press release from office of the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, on 24 May 2023, the Sanctions Coordinators for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the services in charge of sanctions policy and implementation of the European Commission and the European External Action Service met to continue to assess and align ongoing efforts related to sanctions on Myanmar. It added that the partners discussed the significant scope of actions taken since the military coup in February 2021, ongoing coordination efforts, and the importance of continued information and target sharing to support sanctions packages. It explained that the partners identified the continued need for sustained direct cooperation in order to restrict the regime’s ability to carry out atrocities against the people of Myanmar and pressure the regime to change course to restore the country’s path toward genuine and inclusive democracy.
On 25 May 2023, UNHCR published “Weekly Highlights of Myanmar South East - Emergency Overview Map: Number of people displaced in South East since Feb 2021 and remain displaced” as follows: in the South-East, the number of IDPs increased sharply, from 433,000 last week to 441,300 this week; in Bago Region (East), 8,696 IDPs from at least eight villages in Kyaukkyi Township were displaced within the same township due to clashes and increased troop deployment; in Tanintharyi Region, 2,796 IDPs from at least seven villages in Yebyu Township were displaced within the same township due to airstrikes, including 498 IDPs secondarily displaced; in Kayah State, 333 IDPs displaced due to intensified clashes, shelling, and fear of arrests were verified in Bawlake Township, of whom 121 were displaced from within the Township, 145 from Demoso Township, 56 from Loikaw Township, and 11 from Pekon Township in Shan State (South). It informed that separately, in Kayin State, 2,975 IDPs returned to their place of origin, of whom 2,441 returned to Kawkareik Township and 534 to Myawaddy Township.
Actions and remarks by the International Community regarding the emergency response for victims of Cyclone Mocha
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 16 May 2023, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that according to the information received, Cyclone Mocha has been one of the strongest ever to hit the country and 5.4 million people are expected to have been in the path of the cyclone in Rakhine and in the north-west. He added that currently, health, relief items, shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene support are the top priorities, given the high risk of waterborne and communicable diseases. He also said that according to his colleagues, to deliver aid, humanitarian agencies will need access to people impacted by the cyclone, as well as expedited travel authorizations and customs clearances for supplies. He mentioned that there will be a need of a massive investment of funds. He stated that the $764 million Humanitarian Response Plan is less than 10 per cent funded. And even before this cyclone, some 17.6 million men, women and children are already in need in Myanmar.
After the Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar on 14 May 2023, the U.S. Embassy, Canada Embassy, France Embassy and EU Delegation in Myanmar each issued statements regarding the Cyclone Mocha. In their statement each expressed their condolences for the families of the victims and mentioned that they have mobilized resources for the humanitarian response operations.
On 17 May 2023, the United States announced that, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it is providing an initial $450,000 in humanitarian assistance to meet the immediate needs for the people of Burma and Bangladesh most affected by Cyclone Mocha. It informed that this new funding will provide critical shelter and water and sanitation and hygiene needs for vulnerable people in Rakhine State, where Cyclone Mocha first made landfall, and in Chin State, an area prone to landslides. In Bangladesh, this new assistance will provide emergency shelter and relief items in Cox’s Bazar District. It underlined that the cyclone caused significant damage to shelters as well other camp structures including water sources, latrines, and schools frequently used as cyclone shelters. It added that the fatal cyclone has affected more than five million people in Burma, causing widespread flooding and damage to shelters. In Bangladesh, the cyclone affected more than 450,000 people in Cox’s Bazar district, including more than 21,000 Rohingya refugees.
At the United Nations daily press briefing on 18 and 19 May 2023, Deputy Spokesperson for Secretary-General Farhan Haq and Associate Spokesperson for Secretary-General Stephanie Tremblay, each gave updates on the situation in Myanmar after the Cyclone Mocha, including the humanitarian response, shelters, emergency food aids, etc. They have also mentioned that the UN is in need of additional funding to relief support.
On 19 May 2023, the UK announced £2 million in new funding to support communities impacted by Cyclone Mocha in Myanmar. According to the announcement, the UK has already redirected £650,000 of funding to local and international partners to provide emergency assistance to those most in need. This additional £2 million will enable immediate provision of clean water and shelter for up to 175,000 people, and help mitigate the threat of disease.
According to the UK Embassy in Myanmar, on 19 May 2023, His Majesty King Charles III has issued a message of condolence to those affected by Cyclone Mocha. In the message, His Majesty the King said that “At this time of desperate need, our special thoughts and prayers are with the communities which have been affected by this dreadful natural disaster, and we send our deepest, heartfelt condolences to those that have lost their loved ones in such a tragedy”. The UK has announced that new funding of 2.5 million USD will supply clean water and shelter to vulnerable communities, and help to mitigate the threat of disease. Moreover, the funding will be provided directly to local and international organisations who are already on the ground in northwest Myanmar and can quickly deliver the lifesaving support that survivors need.
According to the press release from ASEAN, on 21 May 2023, ASEAN delivered the first batch of Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) relief items of USD 100,000 in value to support the people of Myanmar affected by the Tropical Cyclone MOCHA. It explained that Tropical Cyclone MOCHA, a Category 4 Hurricane on 14 May 2023, has affected several vulnerable communities in Myanmar, including those in Rakhine State, Chin State, Bago, Ayeyarwady, Sagaing and Magway regions. It informed that initial assessment has shown severe damages to infrastructure and public facilities (e.g. schools and healthcare facilities). It stated that the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) is preparing to deliver more relief items from the DELSA Regional Warehouse in Malaysia and Satellite Warehouse in Thailand. It added that the ASEAN Secretary-General has expressed his condolences to the affected communities and is closely monitoring the situation.
At the United Nations’ daily press briefing on 22 May 2023, Spokesperson for Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric said that after one week since Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar with devastating force, a clearer picture is now emerging of the depth of destruction, as humanitarians work to expand assistance across affected areas. He explained that shelter damage is significant across all communities. There are shortages and soaring prices of critical items — especially of shelter materials, which pose a challenge for reconstruction efforts, as one can imagine. He explained that destruction of public infrastructure, as well as disruptions to water systems, continues to limit access to clean drinking water in Rakhine, increasing the risk of waterborne disease. He added that health centres, hospitals and schools have also been damaged or destroyed in coastal areas. Efforts are under way to transport additional supplies to the impacted areas to address stockpile shortages, pending the necessary approvals for movement within and from outside the country.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, on 22 May 2023, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana graciously appointed H.E. Mr. Chirayu Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, Privy Councillor, as Their Majesties’ representative to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar affected by Cyclone Mocha. The Royal Donation comprises a number of tents, blankets, towels, household medicine and remedies, dried food items and other necessary relief items.
The European Commission announced that following cyclone Mocha in Myanmar and Bangladesh, the Commission has released €2.5 million in emergency humanitarian aid to address the most urgent needs of the affected population. It said that the full magnitude of the damage is not yet known as access to the affected areas is limited. However, early reports suggest humanitarian needs are extensive and include shelter, water, sanitation, and food. It mentioned that in the wake of the emergency, the EU triggered the Copernicus Satellite Emergency Management Service to provide real time mapping and deployed experts to help conduct assessments in the field.
Date: 28 May 2023
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations, New York