Myanmar: humanitarian assistance needed to respond to Cyclone Giri

A resident points at her damaged house in town of Kenna So Kyaung near Bogalay town

2 November 2010 – United Nations relief agencies and humanitarian partners in Myanmar are appealing for increased support from donors to provide urgent assistance to more than 200,000 people affected by Cyclone Giri, which struck Myanmar’s Rakhine State late last month.

According to Government estimates, at least 71,000 people remain homeless, with approximately 200,000 people affected in four townships alone – Minbya, Pauktaw, Myebon and Kyaukpyu.

“Our priority right now is to reach all people in need with relief assistance in close coordination with the Government, regional authorities and the humanitarian organizations on the ground, and at the same time start prepare for the substantial input needed over time to rebuild communities,” said UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Bishow Parajuli.

A UN delegation, including representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), visited Rakhine State, meeting with Government officials and others and briefly visiting some of the affected areas.

“The main challenge will remain raising funds. We strongly appeal for more support from the international donor community, which will enable us to respond effectively to the severe damage caused by the cyclone,” Mr. Parajuli stressed.

According to recent assessments, approximately 17,500 acres of agricultural lands have been destroyed. In addition to the massive destruction of houses caused by the cyclone, hundreds of schools were damaged and substantial flooding has also contaminated numerous water sources.

UN agencies are working with the Government as well as national and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to distribute relief items and provide emergency medical care in the most affected townships.

As of 2 November, the World Food Programme (WFP) has dispatched 640 metric tonnes of rice to feed 78,000 people for one month. An additional 600 tonnes are now en route to the affected areas.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are also operational in the region, delivering supplies to those in need.

“While the impact of Cyclone Giri is very severe, fortunately the geographical area of impact is quite limited and can be accessed without too much difficulty. Given that the authorities have welcomed assistance and given that a number of organizations are already operational in the area, it is quite possible to respond to the needs of the affected population effectively and swiftly,” said Mr. Parajuli.


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