The rights groups and activists fighting for relief aid have severely criticised the SPDC for ‘doing nothing’ to help its people who are facing a devastating famine in Chin State of Western Burma, according to the ABC News on Thursday.
The ‘military-ignored’ spreading food crisis caused by a rat infestation has put an estimated 100,000 people on the brink of starvation and about 100 children and elderly have died from malnutrition and famine-related diseases, according to reports by human rights organisations and relief aid groups.
Salai Bawi Lian Mang of Canada-based Chin Human Rights Organisation told the ABC News that the famine is little known, poorly dealt with, and ignored by the government and that people have been suffering, dying in the Chin region, the most isolated jungle area in the country but no one knows about it.
The local SPDC authorities have been condemned for ‘seizing and selling’ food aids to make money for their own profits while a spokesperson for the Asian Division of U.N World Food Program, Paul Risley said care should be taken when dealing with the Myanmar government with a bunch of old generals sitting high in their newly built capital, Naypyidaw.
The Chin communities and relief aid groups welcomed the WFP for accepting the existence of famine in Chin State although its report earlier this year concluded there was no famine.
The UN proposed a work-for-food program where Chin farmers and villages will jointly work on community projects such as building roads and schools in exchange for bags of rice, according to Paul Risley who added: “we are fairly confident we can do this.”
HART, a UK-based aid and advocacy charity that travelled to the famine-affected areas in Chin State from the Indian-Burma border in August and September, said that there is an inevitable delay before the affected people can be reached from within the country. HART, engaged with local Chin organisations and famine relief committees on the border, makes a time-limited appeal to the end of October in order that the major organisations will be able to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
Similar devastating rat-infestation has hit India and Bangladesh but the governments of both countries have prepared in advance and responded to the situation as this predictable phenomenon in which bamboos flower and produce fruits, causing the population of rats accelerates upon consumption, occurs about once every 50 years.
It is estimated that the rat-infested famine, which started in late 2006, will last between two and five years.
One of the ethnic nationalities in Burma, the Chin people, mostly Christians, have long suffered from mistreats, abuses, oppression and persecutions inflicted upon by the military regime, one of the most brutal in the world.
Van Biak Thang Chinland Guardian 19 October, 2008