Monday, 19 May 2008

Situation at Kunchankone: Interview with a villager

May 18, 2008 (DVB) – “…The situation at Kunchankone at the moment is not even good to look at. Here, both humans and animals are dead. No help came.

DVB: It is only in town or rural areas?

“It is happening in rural areas. Tawchaung village, Kunchankone Township. On the day the storm struck, all the homes were struck down in that area. Many people were dead. In our village alone, it is estimated that 200 died. For the whole township, there are 500 villages and we estimated that more than 5,000 died. That is the death toll.

DVB: How are the survivors surviving?

“At the moment, we are waiting for donators to survive. Our village is at least five miles away from town. It takes from dawn till dusk to go back and forth…

DVB: How about your livelihood?

“As our cattle are dead, we can’t do farming. And the paddy fields are destroyed and we are postponing farming. We can’t sell jungle produce such as bamboos and firewood. No one buys them. Therefore, the situation is quite bad.

DVB: Does the government do any effective thing in that area?

“The authorities only gave one ‘pyi’ of rice for one household. But it was not free. Each house had to pay 100 (kyat). The house with big number didn’t have enough to eat. They gave no extra. Now they give nothing…As far as I know they gave only three days…

“…I have been to 10 villages. Some villages have no school, all wiped out. Our village school collapsed…the school will start on the 25th (of May)…At some places, they are instructing the monks to teach…

DVB: How is the water situation? Do you have it?

“The drinking water is in Kunchankone is quite bad…people have to go to the surrounding villages to get water for consumption…At the moment private donors are leaving some pure water bottles. We have to depend on it to live…areas that have no roads don’t have water as donors couldn’t reach them…

DVB: before the storm, what was the main livelihood of the people?

“Most of them grow rice, farm, sell firewood and bamboos…and fishing. Now, almost of them are destroyed.

DVB: How is Burma’s rescue and relocation department helping you?

“Currently, there is no plan like that…In our village there are 400 households. They gave 1 yard of plastic sheet a family…even that, it is not for all houses…

DVB: As there is no enough water, I heard that there is an outbreak of diarrhoea. How is the health situation?

“Dysentery is the main killer…There was a funeral the other day. They say that it is mainly dysentery. That will surely happen because the animals are starting to die in our area…from unknown diseases. The water is so impure and the animals died from drinking it…some donors are carrying out their own security measures to give aid, with machetes…some villages came to loot the cars when other villages were being donated…we are facing this kind of problem in Kunchankone…

DVB: A company car which came to donate aid was confiscated in front of Kunchankone town hall, you said?

“All the materials were confiscated…rice, biscuits, beans, oil were taken away…a friend who is staff there told me…(it happened on the 14th)…people from (Battalion (77) and township authority chairman were busying themselves there. They stop cars, searched them and confiscated them on suspicion. Currently, donors come with monks…in this way there is no searching as they are monks…

DVB: You might have heard that foreign countries are on the bay (Andaman Seas)…if they come and help what would you think of them?

“As they themselves are coming to donate to us, we have to welcome them more. Currently, we heard about it in news on radio, but nothing has arrived into our hands. Speaking as a refugee, if they themselves come, it will be much better…

DVB: If they give aid into the hand of the SPDC (ruling junta), wouldn’t it be effective?

“…what we are seeing now is, they are keeping these snacks, life saving tents for themselves. Roofs, medicines are available in shops. We haven’t got them but you can buy them in shops.

DVB: What else do you have to say?

“In our area, robbery is rampant…four days after the storm, villagers who had nothing to eat robbed rich people near our village. They had to ask the army to keep law and order…another person who went to Dedaye for shopping was murdered…

“…on the day the storm struck, in Kunchankone detention centre, some inmates were killed by the inundation. They didn’t open the door for them and they died…They took the corpses and dumped them into the streams…I know because a member of local authority told me.

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