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First responder India rushes four Navy ships with relief supplies to cyclone Mocha-hit Myanmar

The relief material brought by three Indian Naval Ships being handed over to Yangon Region authorities on Thursday (Image courtesy: Indian Embassy in Myanmar)

Demonstrating once again its ability to act as a true ‘first responder’ to any crisis in the neighbourhood, India on Thursday handed over 40 tonnes of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) material to Myanmar which has been devastated by Cyclone Mocha.

The relief material brought by three Indian Naval Ship (INS) Shivalik, Kamorta, and Savitri was handed over to Yangon Region Chief Minister by India’s Ambassador to Myanmar Vinay Kumar under ‘Operation Karuna’ on Thursday.

It included emergency food items, tents, portable generators, clothes, water pumps, medicines, tarpaulins, hygiene and sanitary items, wheelchair, face masks, etc.

Even as the first consignment of relief supplies was being unloaded and sent immediately to the Rakhine state for distribution among the affected communities, a fourth Indian Naval Ship Gharial is on its way with more materials, including emergency medicines and medical kits, and is expected to reach on Friday.

India’s immediate response holds a special significance as Myanmar remains the only ASEAN country adjoining India and, being a gateway to South East Asia, holds a special significance in line with New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighborhood First’ policies.

“India extends a hand of friendship to the people of Myanmar affected by Cyclone Mocha… India continues to be the first responder in the region,” tweeted External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar revealing that three Indian Navy ships carrying relief material have reached Yangon under Operation Karuna.

The UN aid coordination office (OCHA) has reported that Cyclone Mocha was one of the strongest cyclones to ever hit Myanmar and has left a “trail of devastation” as it moved overland from the Bay of Bengal, particularly in the city of Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State.

“(Some) 5.4 million people are expected to have been in the path of the cyclone. Of these, we consider 3.1 million people to be most vulnerable to cyclone impacts by taking together indicators of shelter quality, food insecurity and poor coping capacity. It really is a nightmare scenario for this cyclone to hit areas with such deep pre-existing needs,” said Ramanathan Balakrishnan, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar.

Despite the worsening political and humanitarian situation in erstwhile Burma, India has continued to deliver humanitarian assistance, including supplying Covid-19 vaccines and contributing medical assistance worth USD 200,000 to ASEAN’s humanitarian initiative for Myanmar.

New Delhi has also stayed in touch with the military regime, maintaining cooperation at various forums, including the BIMSTEC Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (JWG-CTTC) of which India is the lead country.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, in a further sign of thawing relations, Minister of Ports Shipping and Waterways Sarbanand Sonowal inaugurated the Sittwe Port by receiving the first cargo vessel from Kolkata last week.

The port in the capital of Rakhine State has been built under grant assistance from the Indian government as part of the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project (KMTTP) which aims at creating a multi-modal sea, river, and road transport corridor for the shipment of cargo from the eastern ports and Northeast India to Myanmar.