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More than 45,000 People Estimated Displaced by First Monsoon Floods in Myanmar

July 18th, 2019  •  Author:   UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs  •  5 minute read
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  • More than 45,000 people are estimated to have been displaced by flooding in Kachin, Rakhine, Mon and Chin states and Mandalay, Sagaing, Bago and Magway regions in Myanmar.
  • In areas at higher altitudes it has not rained for four days, and water is draining off to lower-lying areas. Many people have thus returned home, leaving more than 11,500 people in evacuation centres, according to the most recent data. Data for Kachin, for example, hasn’t been issued yet, but people there are generally returning.
  • However, rivers are still overflowing their banks and remain at dangerously high levels, upstream and downstream.
  • Areas downstream are of particular concern, as water flows generally to the south/southeast toward Mandalay, Magway and Pyay along the path of the Irrawaddy River and its delta. The situation could deteriorate should it start to rain again, and those areas, including heavily populated Mandalay, are potentially at risk.
  • Likewise, the Kaladan River, which runs through Chin State southward into Rakhine State, and the Lay Myo River pose a risk to villages and displacement sites across a wide area that is also currently embroiled in conflict, meaning civilians there are considerably vulnerable.
  • This is only the beginning of the monsoon rains. There is a need for vigilance and to maintain preparedness measures, as has been done effectively so far.The situation remains dynamic and hard to predict. It can quickly change.


More than 45,000 people estimated displaced by first monsoon floods in Myanmar
This is a cumulative estimate for people displaced since floods began. Some have already returned home, with more than 11,500 people remaining in evacuation centres

The monsoon has brought torrential rains to areas of Kachin, Rakhine, Chin, and Mon states, as well as Bago, Sagaing, Mandalay and Magway regions, with dangerously high river levels and flooding in pockets across large swathes of territory, displacing tens of thousands of people across Myanmar. While river levels peaked on 15 July in and around Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, and have since receded somewhat, July and August are among the heaviest for rainfall in Myanmar every year. This is the beginning of the monsoon season and heavy rains are expected to continue across the region.

In Kachin alone, at the peak of flooding more than 22,000 people were displaced, according to the estimates provided by the national Department of Disaster Management (DDM). In and around the state capital Myitkyina, Tanai and Waingmaw, 79 sites were opened to accommodate people affected by the floods, but most have since returned home. The Military, the Myanmar Red Cross Society and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) facilitated evacuations and managed temporary evacuation centres, responding with immediate assistance. OCHA and partners took part in rapid needs assessments on 13 and 15 July; basic needs such as rice, water, mosquito nets, blankets and mats were being supplied to assist those in evacuation centres. Humanitarian partners responded to an early request from the State government to provide support.

In Rakhine State, more than 9,600 people were displaced in Minbya, Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw townships. Further upstream along the Kaladan River, in Paletwa Township of Chin State, more than 1,700 were also displaced. Nearly all of the displaced have now returned home. There was no official request from the Rakhine State Government for assistance. OCHA and humanitarian partners continue to monitor the situation closely.  The Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) supported the Township Disaster Management board in providing early warning alerts, assistance with evacuations as well as disseminating public messages on flood safety. Authorities also provided cash assistance to people who lost their homes in the floods, as well as household supplies and rice.

People displaced by conflict in Rakhine over the last six months are particularly vulnerable. There is some concern over Muslims living in villages and in camps for internally displaced people in at-risk areas who are also more vulnerable due to restrictions on freedom of movement in those areas.

In Minbya Township, Rakhine State, nearly 3000 people from 26 villages were displaced by flooding, but have since returned. Should flooding later in the season become particularly severe, improved humanitarian access will be crucial for a timely and effective humanitarian response.

In Belin Town, Mon State, DDM reported that more than 750 people were displaced by the floods and evacuated to five sites, where authorities provided assistance. Similarly, all evacuation sites in Mon and Chin states and Bago Region were closed once the water receded and people returned home. However, with water moving to the south, Sagaing, Mandalay and Magway regions have been affected by floods with evacuations in some locations. According to DDM, more than 7,400 people were evacuated in Sagaing while more than 3,600 people were displaced to evacuation centres in Mandalay.

In all of these locations, the authorities, the Myanmar Red Cross Society, civil society organizations and private individuals are responding to the immediate needs of those affected or displaced by floods. OCHA and humanitarian partners are working closely with the authorities, providing support for assessments and resource mobilization, and stand ready to reinforce the Government’s response to floods as required.

Please refer to the map for more information. The blue areas do not reflect flooding areas in entirety, but rather the affected areas within which localized flooding (only) has created the situations described in the narrative.

For more information, please contact:
Nancy McNally, Public Information and Advocacy Officer, OCHA Myanmar
Email: [email protected], Mobile: +95 (0)9797007815

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