Myanmar cyclone victims start to rebuild but need more funds, UN reports

Cyclone Giri which struck Myanmar in October 2010 destroyed thousands of houses, many made of bamboo and palms

21 December 2010 – Local communities in Myanmar have shown remarkable resilience in coping with the destruction caused by Cyclone Giri, which killed at least 45 people and affected 260,000 others two months ago, with substantial food, healthcare and emergency shelters distributed, according to a new United Nations assessment.

“Humanitarian emergency assistance is forthcoming, and people are slowly starting to rebuild their communities with what little they have left and the aid they are receiving,” the UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli told international donors on his return to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, from visiting several villages in Rakhine state to see relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the category 4 cyclone.

But the humanitarian community in Myanmar still needs funding, according to a news release. Only $20.5 million of the estimated $57 million required for both emergency and early recovery phases have so far been allocated by donors, with the main gap occurring in early recovery shelter and livelihood support, he said.

“People are in dire need of more permanent shelter structures and livelihood support,” said Mr. Parajuli, calling their resilience remarkable. “The destruction in these villages has been massive. Up to 70 to 80 per cent of all houses were completely destroyed and schools and health facilities are severely damaged.”

People now rely on emergency supplies distributed to the worst-hit areas by the Government, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies. According to Government estimates, at least 20,000 houses were completely destroyed, leaving over 100,000 people homeless, and 56 per cent of schools have collapsed or been damaged. Some 17,500 acres of agricultural lands and nearly 50,000 acres of agricultural ponds were also destroyed.

The response from the authorities and the international humanitarian community was immediate and relief and recovery efforts will continue in the coming months, said Mr. Parajuli, who is also UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative.

He was accompanied on his three-day mission by officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The delegation met with Government officials and staff from UN agencies and international and local NGOs based in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, and Myebon, where the most severe damage occurred in the 22 October cyclone. They also visited the villages of Min Chaung and Shin Taung in Myebon Township and Byine Thit in Pauktaw Township.

Following the November distributions, WFP and eight partners plan to distribute an additional 6,500 metric tons of mixed food commodities to nearly 200,000 beneficiaries in the four affected townships this month and next. In the livelihood sector, efforts include renovation of embankments, cash-for-work and restoration of fishermen’s livelihoods.

In education, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting the provision of 100 temporary learning spaces and has so far provided school kits to 7,000 children, as well as implementing an expanded immunization plan. As of 10 December, emergency shelter kits had reached 38 per cent of the 52,000 affected households and additional relief items for 22,000 households are planned for the coming months.


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