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Asia-pacific

A year later, situation bleak in Cyclone Nargis-hit areas

Video by AFP

Latest update : 2009-05-02

Survivors of the deadly Cyclone Nargis, which slammed Burma last year, are still in desperate need of food and shelter, according to UN and aid agencies. Aid workers are now allowed in the country, but long-term programmes are needed.

AFP - Hundreds of thousands of people are living without adequate food and shelter in Myanmar a year after a deadly cyclone ravaged large swathes of the country, the UN and aid agencies said Saturday.
  
They said a fifth of those whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis on May 2-3 last year were still living under tarpaulin, while at least 250,000 people would require food handouts until at least the end of 2009.
  
"Considerable needs remain," said the United Nations in a statement, as it sought 691 million dollars to fund another three years of assistance.
  
"Continued support and engagement by the international community must be ensured for years to come," said UN Resident Coordinator Bishow Parajuli.
  
Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar on the afternoon of May 2 with wind speeds reaching 240 kilometres (150 miles) an hour and storm surges up to four metres high.
  
The storm left 138,000 people dead or missing and some 2.4 million people in dire need, but emergency aid was stymied by the junta's early refusal to grant access to humanitarian workers and supplies.
  
In late May UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon brokered a deal that allowed a tripartite group of officials from the UN, Myanmar's government and regional bloc ASEAN to coordinate aid deliveries to the delta.
  
But long-term shelter, cash to replenish lost assets and further food supplies are all critical to the future survival of the delta's residents, aid workers said.
  
"In rural places where the cyclone hit first and hardest, frankly very little recovery has taken place," said Andrew Kirkwood, country director for Save the Children in Yangon.
  
The UN estimates 10.2 million dollars in funding is urgently required for shelter materials before the monsoon season begins, including about 50 storm shelters.
  
One million people have received 70,000 tonnes of food aid, but the World Food Programme said it was currently still feeding 350,000 people and that most of those still required handouts until at least the end of the year.
  
An initial UN appeal for 477 million dollars in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone has been 66 percent funded. But little money has been spent on providing cash or credit to replenish lost cattle, seed and other farming and fishing materials needed to restore livelihoods.
  
"One of the many impacts of Cyclone Nargis was that it destroyed almost an entire harvest that farmers and fishermen had already borrowed against before the cyclone hit," said Oxfam country director Claire Light.
  
"That has meant many families defaulted on those loans and haven't been able to access enough credit ever since to get back on their feet."

Date created : 2009-05-02

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