Narinjara News

World Food Programme Teams in
Western Burma to see the scarcity of rice

Maungdaw, 2 October: 
The World Food Programme has begun distributing rice among the widows and schoolgirls of Maungdaw Township beginning the second week of September.

At Bandoola village tract in the locality, each of the widows and schoolgirls of the village primary school is given 35 to 45 kilos of rice.

Likewise the rice is being distributed in some other villages including Aung Chantha, Tamantha, and Kaladipat.

A delegation of the World Food Programme on 25th September visited the western Burmese town of Maungdaw, close to the border of Bangladesh.  Another team, led by Mike Fletcher, visited the area between 23rd and 30th September.

The recent sharp hike of rice price in the locality has caused alarm and reacting to the informal reports of a famine-like situation in the area the UNHCR and other related organizations that have been engaged in repatriation of Burmese refugees in the camps in Bangladesh have stepped up their visits in the western border of Burma.  The WFP team on 25 September visited a number of shops at Kringchaung Village under Maungdaw Township of Rakhine State and inquired about the price of rice, according to our correspondent.  They also took photographs of a state-owned rice mill in the area.

Recently at least two WFP delegations from Rangoon came visiting the border areas as the entire area is in a silent famine-like situation resulting from scarcity of rice.  A town elder at Maungdaw said, “Previously we saw rice illegally being smuggled to Bangladesh.  Now it is the smuggled Bangladeshi rice that we have to buy at a high price. “ 

A fifty-kilo bag of rice is now selling at kyat 15,000 in Sittwe, the western Rakhine State capital, while the same costs at kyat 18,000 in the western border.  One month ago it cost only kyat 8,000.  The ruling State Peace and Development Council junta recently withdraw its ban on transport of rice from Burma proper to Rakhine State on the face of scarcity of rice.  A businessman in Sittwe said that the scarcity of rice resulted from a number of factors including rampant transportation of rice to Burma proper by the State Agriculture Transportation Department and smuggling out of rice in conjunction with the top junta officials stationed in Rakhine State#