Thein Sein, Myanmar President, asked residents in the Irrawaddy Delta to evacuate to safe shelter amidst alarmingly rising river levels and floods burdening the region.
The embankments in the Irrawaddy Delta face the greatest threat, as the low-lying areas are most predisposed to rivers overflowing here as their levels rise.
The Irrawaddy Delta is home to approximately 6.2 million people or 12 percent of the country’s population. As the monsoon that heavily hit Southeast Asia recently displaced millions, this new internal displacement adds to the number of victims.
So far, Yangon is not under threat of the disastrous floods, albeit being located next to the Delta. As of yet, Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement announced that 81 lives have been lost as the heavy rains prompter rivers to overflow and flood the Irrawaddy Delta.
A total of four areas are declared disaster zones as the floods take head across Myanmar. International relief efforts have been stepped up, with the U.S. announcing that an aid package is prepared to help the victims of the flooding.
Amidst the natural disaster taking hold of Myanmar, political tensions intensify as well. The leader of the Myanmar opposition, Aung San Suu Kyi declared that the monsoon and the floods that heavily impacted Myanmar residents could be used as an excuse to bypass the general election set for November.
In a parallel with the aftermath of the 2008 Nargis Cyclone, when Myanmar’s constitution was written under military supervision, thus enabling the overreaching attributions of the military in the governmental affairs of the country, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate warned that the scenario could replay itself, albeit under different circumstances.
The 2008 Cyclone Nargis was reported to have killed 140,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands as well. In an atmosphere of confusion, the military-drafted constitution was confirmed, albeit many independent reports question the results of the voting and the procedure.
However, even the fact that Myanmar called out for international help to cope with the effects of the natural disaster is a step away from the situation in 2008.
However, Aung San Suu Kyi stated in a Facebook video:
“Generous donations which are uncoordinated tend to go astray or to prove less effective than they might be if they were part of a well laid plan”.
The Irrawaddy Delta is not only home to 12 percent of Myanmar’s population, but also the rice producing hub of the country. The Secretary of the Myanmar Rice Federation, Soe Tun declared that so far, the rice production hasn’t been affected by flooding.
180 acres of the Ayeyarwady paddy were destroyed, while 101,000 acres were flooded, according to Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.
Photo Credits: asiapacific.anu.edu.au