On Sunday morning 14th of May, cyclone “Mocha” hit the coastal regions of Myanmar and Bangladesh with wind speeds of up to 210 kilometers per hour. Forecasters warned Cyclone Mocha could be the most powerful storm seen in Bangladesh in nearly two decades. An official death toll has not been released yet. According to the international disaster warning system, around three million people in Myanmar and Bangladesh could be affected by the cyclone. Around 500,000 people had to be evacuated and housed in emergency shelters. The district of Sittwe in Myanmar has been especially affected, but also the region of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where the largest refugee camp in the world is located. Malteser International staff – the Order of Malta’s relief worldwide service – and local partner organizations in Myanmar and Bangladesh have already started to distribute first relief goods to the people who lost everything as a result of the storm.
“The first warning signs for the cyclone were already there a few days ago, so that our staff and partners in Myanmar and Bangladesh were able to start early with the preparations for the emergency relief. We have already distributed food, drinking water, infant nutrition, and hygiene items as a precautionary measure to support the people,” says Cordula Wasser, Head of the Asia Department of Malteser International.
For more than 20 years, Malteser International has been supporting the people in Myanmar and currently employs about 250 staff members on the ground. Malteser International is active in the field of health care, access to water, hygiene and sanitation, and disaster preparedness.
Since 2017, Malteser International has been supporting the refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In three healthcare centers, a local partner organization provides medical care to people, especially expectant mothers and newborns. Volunteers provide psychosocial counseling, conduct health and hygiene training in the camps, and have improved sanitation facilities at schools and community healthcare centers.
Only a few weeks ago a major fire in the Cox Bazar refugee camp had destroyed parts of the shelters and facilities with serious consequences for the refugees.