Thursday, 17 July 2008

Famine-like situation in Maungdaw

Kaladan Press

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Villagers in Maungdaw Township, Arakan State are starving in a famine like situation over the last three weeks because of incessant heavy rain and a consequent rise in prices of essential commodities, said a schoolteacher on condition of anonymity.

Northern Arakan, especially Maungdaw and Buthidaung Townships, have been witnessing heavy rain. Poor people are not getting jobs and are unable to support their families resulting in some facing acute food shortage.

Besides, the prices of essential commodities have risen because of the incessant heavy rain. Now a kilogram of rice sells at Kyat 550 against Kyat 500 two weeks ago. The price of chili has soared from Kyat 1,500 to Kyat 2,000 a Viss (one Viss = 1.63 kg). A viss of onion is being sold at Kyat 800 while it was kyat 600 two weeks ago, and a Viss of garlic is being sold at Kyat 1,400. It was Kyat 1,250 before.

Forida Begum (30), from Aley Than Kyaw village tract in Maungdaw Township said, "We have five members in our family. My husband is unable to go out for work due to heavy rain, so we have no money and no rice to feed our family. We have been starving for three days."

Another villager Ali Hussain (60), from the same village said, "I think, in every village in Maungdaw Township, some of the families are starving. I know that at least five to eight families have been staring starvation in the face in other villages surrounding our village Aley Than Kyaw."

Moreover, due to heavy rain, most of the shrimp and prawn projects have been destroyed in Aley Than Kyaw village tracts. Seedlings of paddy were also damaged due to the rain and farmers will be unable to grow paddy in time. So farmers are apprehensive of low harvest next year, said a local farmer.

A village elder from the village also said, "We want support for poor villagers who are starving, from the government, NGOs like World Food Program (WFP) and from other NGOs. Their lives need to be saved. WFP, earlier, supported the poor villagers who had been facing food shortage for the last two years.

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