This report by the Arakan Human Rights and Development Organisation (AHRDO), published on the second anniversary of Cyclone Giri, documents and highlights the situation in Arakan State before, during and after the cyclone.
On 22 October 2010 Cyclone Giri made landfall along the Bay of Bengal in Burma and hit Arakan and Chin states, and Magwe and Mandalay regions or divisions. Mraybon, Pauktaw, Kyaukphru, and Marmbra townships in Arakan State of Western Burma were the worst hit areas with wind speeds of 120 to 160 mph (193-257 km/h). The cyclone took the lives of at least 259 Arakanese people and caused widespread destruction to homes, paddy farms, fishing equipment and infrastructure; including schools, religious buildings, roads and bridges.
There were crucial delays in emergency relief and medical care reaching the victims. Offers of assistance by other countries were ignored and there were reports of misappropriation of relief goods. The activities of international and local relief agencies were restricted. People faced many difficulties finding sufficient food, water and shelter – with little or no government support.
Within three months, or after the first phase of the emergency relief was completed, almost all local and international NGOs had left the communities affected by cyclone Giri. Generally the victims received little or no support for rebuilding income, from the government or international NGOs. Relief supplies were neither equally nor fairly distributed among the victims, as most of the relief items from INGOs were distributed through government authorities and the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). This created a lot of problems among the villagers.
To date, despite two years having passed since the cyclone, the damage to the infrastructure has not been fully repaired. Many survivors of Cyclone Giri continue to face hardships in rebuilding their homes and livelihoods. Unlike Cyclone Nargis, the international media have largely ignored Cyclone Giri. It is vital that the Burmese government and the international community should not forget the tremendous challenges which Giri survivors are still facing. The lack of attention does not mean that their problems are over.