FCA prepares for aid operation in Myanmar devastated by Cyclone Mocha

On Sunday May 14 in Myanmar, the hurricane hit the Rakhine region, already suffering an ongoing humanitarian emergency.

CYCLONE MOCHA cost lives and caused severe damage, assessment of which is underway in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The cyclone, which picked up speed from the Bay of Bengal, blew at a speed of up to 60 meters per second when it hit the land and tore down trees and power lines. Due to the storm, there have been extensive data network outages in the Rakhine state area, making it difficult to acquire accurate date.

Finn Church Aid has already allocated 100,000 euros from its disaster fund on Sunday for the emergency relief work caused by the hurricane. FCA has its own country office in Myanmar and on Monday, local employees started assessing the need for aid in the Rakhine region, where we already have projects, including those financed by Women’s Bank.

Mocha caused widespread destruction in Myanmar

“Cyclone Mocha has severely damaged the infrastructure of the Rakhine region in Myanmar. Only the tallest and strongest buildings have survived the storm, most of the others have been destroyed,” says Henry Braun , FCA’s Country Director for Myanmar .

He describes surroundings covered with debris from fallen trees and electricity poles.

“The hurricane has particularly affected housing. Those who can afford it have moved to hotels and other paid accommodation. Those who can’t afford it have sought shelter on the streets and, for example, in playgrounds.”

According to Braun, most families only had time to take water and food for a few days during the evacuations that took place before the storm.

“The emergency situation requires immediate humanitarian aid in order to meet the food and shelter needs of these people and to restore infrastructure. Our goal is to extend our help to around 20,000 people,” says Braun.

An old woman sits in the ruins of her house
A Rohingya woman sits in her destroyed house at Basara refugee camp in Sittwe on May 16, 2023, after cyclone Mocha made a landfall. AFP / LEHTIKUVA / SAI AUNG MAIN

Already a state of emergency in cyclone-hit area

Half a million people were evacuated from the path of Cyclone Mocha even before landfall on the continent. In total, Mocha is estimated to have affected the lives of more than eight million people while moving from the coast to the interior. About two million of them were already in extremely vulnerable situations. A humanitarian emergency has prevailed in the Rakhine region before the natural disaster due to the military coup last year and the conflict that preceded it, and aid work in the region is estimated to be very difficult.

FCA is preparing to distribute cash grants to the most vulnerable families in Myanmar’s Rakhine region for food and to repair homes damaged by the cyclone. Distributing cash grants requires that the local market is functioning and that people are able to use money to buy basic items such as food, potable water, hygiene items, blankets and mosquito nets. The security situation in the area may also affect what kind of help can be offered to people driven from their homes by the storm in the initial stages of the operation.

We also plan to secure the continuation of children’s schooling as quickly as possible in addition to our other projects.

Additional information:

FCA Executive Director Tomi Järvinen, tomi.jarvinen@kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, tel. +35840 641 8209

FCA Myanmar Country Director Henry Braun, henry.braun@kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, +95 944 172 2176