Myanmar's ruling military government has suspended approvals for international aid organizations to reach communities affected by a cyclonic storm last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Friday.
Distribution of critical aid, such as water, food and medicines, were being held up as a result. The UN situation report said the suspension of aid activities "could not have come at a worse time" given the approaching annual monsoon season.
The cyclone, called Mocha, destroyed thousands of houses in its path of destruction in Myanmar and Bangladesh last month. It was one of the most powerful storms to hit Myanmar.
At least 148 people died in western Rakhine state, and more than 186,000 buildings were destroyed, according to state media.
The UN report did not mention why the military junta's Disaster Management Committee suspended travel authorizations to affected communities.
More than a million affected by Cyclone Mocha
The UNOCHA said about 1.6 million people were heavily affected by the cyclone in Rakhine, Chin and Kachin states, and in Sagaing and Magway regions.
It said more than 113, 200 people have received shelter and other relief from aid groups, while food was distributed to more than 293, 800 people in Rakhine alone, which was particularly hit hard by the cyclone and where fighting between the junta and opposition has occurred.
There are concerns that people might be left without adequate shelter during the monson season if they don't receive the aid.
Myanmar's state of affairs
Myanmar's military has long kept access to many parts of the country under tight restrictions, especially areas seen as sensitive because of tensions with ethnic minorities, as is the case with Rakhine.
The military drove out upwards of 700,000 Rohingyas from Rakhine state in a brutal military campaign in 2017, with close to a million of them now living in camps in Bangladesh.
The safety situation in Myanmar has worsened since the coup of 2021, when general tooks over power alleging voter fraud during the 2020 general election.
The military removed Aung San Suu Kyi, who formed the first civilian government after decades of military rule in the country.
rm/jcg (AP, AFP)