Myanmar: UN appeals for $482 million for cyclone recovery

Myanmar: UN appeals for $482 million for cyclone recovery

Survivors of Cyclone Nargis in the aftermath of the disaster
The United Nations has appealed for a total of $482 million to assist victims of Cyclone Nargis which devastated large areas of Myanmar in early May, leaving around 140,000 dead or missing and severely affecting an estimated 2.4 million people.

Launching the appeal at UN Headquarters, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that the funding would support 103 aid projects covering food supplies, agriculture, water and sanitation, health, schooling and shelter.

Mr. Holmes explained that the $482 million total included $201 million that was requested in an earlier appeal, and said the proposed aid effort was based on information from a joint assessment of the impact of the cyclone carried out by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Government of Myanmar and the UN.

He described Cyclone Nargis as the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar, saying that up to 800,000 people were displaced from their homes in the first weeks after the storms. In addition, twice as many women died as men in the 18-60 age group.

Mr. Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that significant progress had been made over the past six weeks in improving access for international aid workers to affected areas, but stressed that the challenges were still great and that the relief operation was by no means over. He added that the appeal was for continued aid operations that would last through April 2009.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Dan Baker, echoed Mr. Holmes statement on improved access, at a news conference in New York after the launch of the appeal.

“Nobody has been denied access into the country or to go to the field if they wanted to go to assist with the humanitarian activities, so I was able to assure the Member States this morning that this is the case and that this gave us a really firm basis for this appeal because we can in fact reach the people now,” he said.

The joint assessment of the humanitarian situation in Myanmar found that 42 per cent of all food stocks had been destroyed and that 55 per cent of families only had stocks for one day or less. Some 924,000 people will need food assistance until the November harvest this year, while around 300,000 will need continued relief until April 2009.

Over 70 per cent of households reported inadequate access to clean water because of damage to rainwater collection systems and saltwater contamination of ponds.