Flooding and Lack of Medical Care Affect Naga Region
29 November 2018
Sagaing Division, Burma
In the Naga Hills of Sagaing Division, in northwestern Burma, the FBR Naga team has been conducting medical and relief missions into new territories that are so remote, they receive little outside assistance or attention.
The team conducts two mission per year, with the initial 2018 mission happening in Namyun Division in February. Over the course of three weeks, the Rangers provided mobile clinic services ten times to help villagers’ medical issues and conducted multiple interviews with locals to ascertain major problems and how they could provide additional assistance on future missions.
The villagers reported that though they have seen some improvements in recent years, such as the Burma Army no longer forcing them to provide unpaid porters to carry their supplies, they have issues of food security, as they are reliant on their rice harvest which is dependent on unreliable weather. Although other food crops can be grown, with limited government assistance available in the event of harvest failures, their subsistence is precarious at all times.
Additionally, although there is a government polio inoculation scheme in place, healthcare provision is almost non-existent and often difficult to reach. One village leader told the team that:
“The villagers are commonly suffering from coughing and diarrhoea. In the raining season sometimes we suffer the death of our children from those diseases. We have to send the patients to Namyun, Dunghee, or Lahe but it is very hard to afford to pay for a motorbike. From our village to Dunghee it is three days on foot, to Lahe six days, and to Namyun ten. For emergency patients, we have to carry the sick.”
In every village that the team visited they were asked to return whenever possible as for some the FBR team was the only medical personnel available to them.
The dedication of the Naga team to provide assistance was especially valued when they were able to get critical supplies to areas severely affected by flooding during their June mission in the area.
The mission had problems from the start, with the ranger team finding the roads and bridges they needed to use to reach the mission area destroyed by the heavy rains and multiple landslides. Then, while returning from a clinic they had held in Zingaling Town, Leshi Township, they received word that another town had suffered a disaster. The Naga team leader said that:
“We got the information about the flood in Mobilute Town, at least 40 Naga families were totally suffering from lack of food and most people were in need of medical health care. So we decided to go there straight away.”
The swift action by the team meant they were able to purchase forty large bags of rice and give it to the flood victims and provide medical assistance. One villager said, “We have no help from government nor any other groups. In such situation and not expecting help, we were surprised to have a help from the Naga FBR Team for the first time. This is the first time that we are getting help for flood victims, though we are facing such floods every year for the last three years. The Government has been neglecting and ignoring our suffering and no humanitarian aid has been provided to us.”
A local leader explained that the situation was the product of the government policy in previous years of forced relocation for Naga villagers. He said that:
“Mobilute Town was established only in 2010 by Myanmar Government, who forced many families and some entire villages to move here. Since 2014, every year the flood is happening. On 13 June 2018, the flood started suddenly at night. Four to five family lost most of their belongings and loss affected another 40-50 families. At least 5-10 acres of rice fields were also destroyed.
Last year during the flood, Myanmar government provided one torch light and one pound of rice to each family affected.”
He, like everyone else the ranger team had helped, expressed his thanks.
“There is no organization providing help to us except the Naga FBR Team,” he said.