GENEVA — The United Nations has strongly condemned the Myanmar government’s decision to block humanitarian aid to regions devastated by Cyclone Mocha, accusing authorities of jeopardizing life-saving assistance to affected communities.
In a press briefing held at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, spokesperson Jens Laerke delivered a stern message urging the State Administration Council to reconsider its actions and reinstate the necessary approvals for aid distribution and transportation.
Cyclone Mocha struck Rakhine State a month ago, leaving behind widespread destruction and displacing countless individuals.
Despite initial efforts to deliver aid to affected populations, the State Administration Council suspended humanitarian access, exacerbating the suffering of over a million people in the region.
International Concern for Humanitarian Crisis
The decision has been met with outrage and concern from international organizations and humanitarian actors, who had meticulously planned relief operations for the weeks and months ahead.
During the period immediately following the cyclone, humanitarian agencies were able to reach a growing number of people in Rakhine by utilizing limited travel authorizations granted by the de facto authorities.
The provision of shelter and essential supplies, including food and water, benefited close to 110,000 individuals. Notably, nearly 300,000 people in Rakhine alone received vital food assistance.
These achievements underscore the critical importance of unhindered humanitarian access in delivering life-saving aid.
However, the State Administration Council’s recent decision to reverse its initial approval has led to a halt in aid distribution and transportation, not only in Rakhine but also in Chin State.
The sudden reversal has alarmed humanitarian actors and the United Nations, with concerns mounting over the potential consequences for vulnerable populations.
Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, has expressed profound dismay at the denial of access, deeming it “unfathomable.“
He warns of the imminent rise in food insecurity and water-borne diseases as a result of inadequate assistance reaching the cyclone-affected areas. With the approaching monsoon season and the looming threat of heavy rainfall, the risk of floods and landslides is further heightened, exacerbating an already dire situation.
The Myanmar government now faces international criticism for its actions, with human rights organizations and advocacy groups condemning the obstruction of humanitarian efforts.
The United Nations and other concerned entities are calling on the government to prioritize the welfare and survival of its people by promptly restoring humanitarian access to the cyclone-hit regions.
Call to Start Aid Again
The reinstatement of aid distribution and transportation plans is crucial to ensure the delivery of life-saving assistance and mitigate the growing risks faced by affected communities.
As the international community watches closely, pressure mounts on the Myanmar government to act swiftly and responsibly, setting aside political considerations and prioritizing the urgent needs of its citizens.
Failure to do so not only prolongs the suffering of cyclone survivors but also undermines the country’s international standing and commitment to humanitarian principles.