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Government Aid Is Slow to Arrive as More than 100,000 Affected by Floods in North Myanmar

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Photo shared by artist Mawlaik on Facebook.

Non-stop rains in the past week have flooded the northern regions of Myanmar affecting 110,000 people. Many criticized the government for its slow response and delay in placing the country under state of emergency.

The regions heavily affected by the rains and floods are Sagain, Magway, Chin, Rakhine, and Shan. As of July 29, the floods have killed 20 people already. Many roads and bridges were damaged in Chin. There are fears continuous rains could break some irrigation dams.

Furthermore, as cyclone Komen batters neighboring Bangladesh, the western part of Myanmar and the delta region have been hit with flash floods.

As the rain continues, concerned citizens in Myanmar have been posting photos of floods and their concerns about the safety of affected residents:

Olar Magway wrote about the impact of the floods in Magway division:

Emergency!

We can contact through the only phone in Sidoktaya.

4/5 of the city has been covered with water and we are in need of shelter, water and food.

The whole city is dark and it keeps raining.

Note: Pwint Phyu City is also in danger of flooding.

People stranded in Sidoktaya are in need of aid through air support.

On Facebook, various local news pages and citizen media platforms are sharing photos of different cities affected by the floods.

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Photo shared by Chin World on Facebook. Flooding near Kalay town of Chin State.

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Photo shared by Arakan Now. Flooding near Sittwe town of Rakhine state.

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Photo Shared by Naw Ko on Facebook. Flooding near Pwint Phyu town of Magway Division.

Myanmar Flood

Photo shared by Maung Tun Wai. Flood relief response by a civil society group.

The relief efforts of various civil society groups and volunteers are contrasted to the slow, or in some places total lack of government's response to the flood crisis.

Facebook user and activist Theinny Oo urged the government to provide more humanitarian assistance to affected regions. She said that the public and authorities should remember the lessons from the country's experience with cyclone Nargis in 2008:

(We) should remember the lessons from Nargis. Because the rescue response was late, we had such a huge loss. We were unable to rehabilitate the social, economic and education sectors. It took 5 years in Irrawaddy division alone to reconstruct. Now it is happening in five different states and divisions. Loss of civilian lives and properties is a national loss.

Political Activist Nay Myo Kyaw also shared his thoughts about the lack of government support:

When a natural disaster happens, it does not just affect one person. It affects at least a whole town or a whole state or nation. If civil society groups and grassroots organizations carry out disaster risk reduction activities, it will be only small scale. But the most responsible entity here is the government. When the people are having such a crisis and government is reluctant to help, it means authorities are not fulfilling their responsibilities.

According to renowned meteorologist U Tun Lwin, the government should have declared a national emergency during the first three days of the floods. He made this statement on July 29. The government eventually issued an official declaration of emergency on the afternoon of July 31.

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Government's response in Kalay town of Chin State. Photo shared by Hmuu Zaw, the official Facebook page of the Ministry of Information

Environmentalists are blaming rapid deforestation for the current flooding crisis. They warned that the country's forest cover has been reduced to only 20 percent of the country's total land area. They said that environmental preservation and rehabilitation should be prioritized by the government.

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