By LAWI WENG
The Irrawaddy News
Famine deaths are still being reported from a region of Burma’s northwestern Chin State, where inhabitants of 45 villages are being forced to forage for food in the jungle because their rice stocks have been lost to a plague of rats.
The villages are in the State’s Tlangtlang Township, the worst-hit area.
More than 40 children have already died in the famine, according to Chin humanitarian groups in exile.
Many of the children died from food poisoning as a result of eating plants foraged in the jungle.
"The people are hungry, so they are eating whatever they can find in the forest," said a Christian missionary in Vawng Tu village.
Exiled Chin groups say the famine is affecting about 20 percent of the state’s population, or at least 100,000 people. Many are leaving for Chin State towns or even neighboring Bangladesh in search of food and assistance.
Several UN agencies and international non-government organizations are working on a relief program for the region. They hope to launch the six-month program in early September.