Friday, April 15, 2011

Two-Thirds of Giri Families in Arakan Still Homeless

Mray Bon: Two-thirds of the families that were victims of Cyclone Giri in Arakan State are still waiting for proper accommodation, despite that the rainy season will be starting next month in Burma, report several sources.

Most of the families who are still homeless are in Mray Bon Township, the area most affected by the cyclone that hit the Arakan coast last year.

A social worker from Mray Bon said, "The problem is serious for the cyclone victims in our area, but there is no organization to help overcome the problem. Meanwhile, there are problems taking place between the affected families and local NGOs who are constructing homes for victims."

Some NGOs have been constructing homes for families in Mray Bon Township, but many have refuse to move into the homes due to their weak construction.

"The cyclone victims want homes that can withstand a normal storm, but most of the homes constructed by the NGOs are not strong enough to resist a normal storm with 60 or 70-mile-per-hour winds because they built them for under 60,000 kyats. In Arakan State, there are storms every year that hit some areas of the coast during rainy season with winds up to 60 or 70 miles per hour."

An elder from Kun Chaung Island said, "The officials from NGOs first told us they'd provide homes worth 600,000 or 700,000 kyats, but this is not true. When the NGOs construct the homes for us, the value of home is only about 60,000 kyats. How can we accept the home at the lower price? So many families on our island have refused to accept the homes provided by NGOs."

Most families in the affected areas have not been able to build their own homes, but they have still refused to accept the weak homes provided by the NGOs.

"If we accept the homes from the NGOs, the home will be damaged with rainy season comes to our area. So we do not accept such worthless houses. We complained to the authority to request they provide stronger homes for cyclone victims," the elder said.

The cyclone victims complained to the government, but authorities have yet to address the problem. The Burmese government has provided government buildings, including schools and hospitals, in the cyclone-affected areas, but have not provided homes for residents.

In Arakan State, an estimated 260,000 people were affected by the October cyclone that destroyed 20,830 homes and damaged another 31,114 homes, according to official figures. Four Arakan State townships - Kyaukpru, Mray Bon, Minbya, and Pauktaw - were hit the hardest.

It has now been close to six months since the cyclone hit, and many families are facing problems with food shortage, lack of shelter, and health issues after an inadequate relief effort.
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