With winds of 175 kilometers per hour, Cyclone Mocha is heading towards the coasts of eastern Bangladesh and Myanmar today (Saturday), threatening about a million Rohingya refugees and other residents of low-lying areas.
Bangladesh and Myanmar asked hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes before the strong cyclone, which is likely to hit the two countries tomorrow afternoon (Sunday). The Bangladesh Meteorological Office predicted that Cyclone Mocha, after gathering strength in the Bay of Bengal for several days, will intensify and reach land in the area between Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Myanmar tomorrow.
More than a million Rohingya refugees live in Cox’s Bazar, a border region in southeastern Bangladesh, most of whom fled a military-led crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.
The World Meteorological Organization warned of heavy rains, floods and landslides that could affect hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable people in the world, including Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and 6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine state in neighboring Myanmar.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expected Mocha – classified as a very dangerous cyclonic storm – to make a path through Rakhine State in Myanmar and the northwestern region of Myanmar, where 6 million people live in need of humanitarian assistance, along with 1.2 million displaced people.
Since a military council seized power two years ago, Myanmar has been in chaos, and a resistance movement is fighting a battle against the army on multiple fronts after it launched a bloody crackdown on protests.
“We are focusing on saving lives,” said Muhammad Shams al-Duja, a government official responsible for refugee affairs in Bangladesh. Those at risk of landslides will be evacuated.
For its part, the World Food Program said it was preparing food and relief supplies that could help more than 400,000 people in Rakhine and surrounding areas for a month.