A glimpse of some of the damage. Photo: GCCF - WACC.
Global Christian Chin Federation (GCCF), a corporate member of WACC, reported that heavy rains starting in mid July have caused widespread devastation particularly acute in rural areas not accessible by phone or road.
Homes and other buildings have been destroyed by floods and mudslides, and existing roads have, in some cases, been impassable. The inaccessibility of many of the areas have made relief efforts extremely difficult.
ACT Alliance, a humanitarian relief and development network, of which WACC is a member, has just issued an appeal to support relief efforts. According to the appeal, almost 1.5 million people are affected, hundreds of thousands of people displaced and over 100 people have lost their lives.
The most urgent needs are food, shelter, water, sanitation and medicines as well as an emergency measures to prevent further landslides and ground cracking.
Rev. Dr. Hla Aung, GCCF Executive Secretary, also warns of the longer-term impact of the disaster. He said “The worst thing is that all the paddy fields along rivers or big streams in the valley across Chin States are mostly swept away by the flood. That means there will be acute food problem in future across Chin State.”
He also pointed out that cracks are still appearing in buildings, “If the land cracking situation continues and becomes worse, then many big buildings along the main street in Hakha will be affected and that will be really a very, very big loss for the community culturally.”
To respond to the disaster and facilitate collaboration with other ACT Alliance members in the country, GCCF and WACC have formalized an agreement so that GCCF officially represents WACC in the country and in relationship with other ACT partners.
WACC has also developed an initiative with GCCF to address the isolation of the Chin people, who are a “forgotten” people in a remote area at a time when the country is divided and in the middle of fundamental peace negotiations.
The proposed project, awaiting a funding decision, would set up a radio station to broadcast news and information in the Chin language. The Chin people are one of the indigenous groups that established modern Myanmar in 1947 by signing the Panglong Agreement.
“We alone cannot manage all the urgent needs,” states Aung. “We really need help from friends all over the world.”