Burma/Myanmar: 44 children die of starvation; 2,000 flee to India
Children Die in Chin State Famine
By SAW YAN NAING
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
More than 30 children have died in a famine in Chin state, western Burma, according to the Chin National Council, an exile rights group.
The famine was caused by a plague of rats, which ate rice stocks in many of the state’s villages.
Another Chin group, the Chin Human Rights Organization, said the famine had hit about 20 percent of the state’s population, or at least 100,000 people.
“They have no food,” said Lian H Sakhong, a leader of the Chin Humanitarian and Relief Committee. “Unless we provide sufficient relief soon, the situation will become worse.”
He pleaded with donors to contact the Chin Humanitarian and Relief Committee so that relief can be rushed to the stricken areas.
The famine occurs about every 50 years when the flowering of a native species of bamboo gives rise to an explosion in the rat population. The International Rice Research Institute has warned of “widespread food shortages” because of the crisis.
44 children die of starvation; 2,000 flee to India
August 21, 2008 – Famine plaguing Chin state in western Burma killed 44 children after they were afflicted by malnutrition and diarrhea, according to Chin National Council’s secretary Pu Ralhnin. Faced with starvation around 2,000 people have fled to India.
“All the victims are children. They died from malnutrition and diarrhea, Pu Ralhnin said.
The children who died from malnutrition and diarrhea – as a result of food shortage in Chin state – are from Surngen, Tisen (A, B), Sentun, Ngalang, Lawngzuite, Lawngtlang villages in Thangtlang Township.
“Since they had nothing to eat, they looked for Yams in the jungle and had it as their daily meal. It led to malnutrition and diarrhea,” he added.
Meanwhile faced with starvation, around 2,000 villagers from Paletwa Township, one of the worst affected areas in Chin state have fled to Mizoram state in northeast India.
“I heard that around 2000 Khumi people from Paletwa region had arrived in some areas in Mizoram close to the Indo-Burma border because they are facing food shortage and there is nobody to help them,” Terah, coordinator of Chin Famine Emergency and Relief Committee based in Mizoram said.
The villagers belong to the Khumi tribe from famine hit areas in Paletwa township. They entered illegally to take refuge in Saiha district and Lawngtlai district in Mizoram.
Terah also said that most of the villagers from Paletwa Township are in search of whatever jobs are available in Mizoram for survival.
Bamboo flowering began on the Indo-Burma border in late 2006 leading to multiplication of rats in the region. The rats gradually invaded the farmlands and destroyed crops such as paddy and maize – the main staple food of Chin state.
As a result along the Indo-Burma border areas, over 100,000 people, heavily dependant on cultivation are facing food shortage.
Initially, the most affected areas were Paletwa, Matupi, Thangtlang township but later the phenomenon spread to northern Chin state.
Since early July, rodents started devouring crops in several farms of some areas in Tamu and Kalay Township in Sagaing division. The farmers were helpless, unable to contain the situation.
“Since early July, rats have been destroying several crops such as paddy and maize planted in farms in our villagers,” a villager from Khanpat said.
Despite the local authorities distributing rat poison to farmers in Kalay to prevent further spread of rats in the region, the farmers said that using the poison is no longer effective.
The Burmese regime said that it had provided rat poison and around 1000 bags of rice to the affected areas in Chin state.
The locals from the affected areas in Chin state denied that they had received any aid from local authorities. – KHONUMTHUNG.