Saturday, 25 December 2010

A resident of hard-hit Myebon Township’s Pyinone village clears debris as other villagers work to rebuild the nearly 100 per cent of the area’s homes destroyed by Cyclone Giri on October 28, 2010. Although government newspapers initially said the storm killed only 27 across Arakan State, more than 40 died in Pyinone alone, villagers said. The Category Four storm had hit Burma’s western coast bearing winds in excess of 120 miles per hour (193 km/h) four days earlier. Although the devastated region needed an estimated US$57 million, it had received just US$20.5 million, the UN Country Team in Burma said in a report on Monday. Photo: Mizzima
New Delhi (Mizzima) – Two months since Cyclone Giri ripped through Burma’s western Arakan State, residents affected have received just 45 per cent of their basic humanitarian needs, the Rangoon branch of a UN aid office said. People are in “dire need of more permanent shelter” and “livelihood support”, a UN official added.
Although the devastated region had needed an estimated US$57 million, it had received just US$20.5 million, the report compiled by the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said on Monday.

Cyclone Giri hit the Arakanese coast on October 22, flattening villages in the worst-hit townships of Myebon, Pauktaw, Kyaukphyu and Manaung with winds gusting up to 160 mph (257 km/h), and killing at least 45 people. The Category Four storm affected 260,000 people and more than 100,000 were displaced, the report said.

Fifty-six per cent of schools, around 17,500 acres (7,000 hectares) of agricultural lands, nearly 50,000 acres of aquaculture ponds and more than 700 fishing boats were also destroyed in the cyclone, severely affecting residents’ livelihoods and causing problems with health care, education and other basic needs, it said.

The report also urged international donors to provide humanitarian relief for the cyclone victims.

Committee Representing People’s Parliament (CRPP) secretary and Arakan League for Democracy joint general secretary Aye Tha Aung arrived in the cyclone-affected area today to offer support and report on the situation.

“I went to many villages. Their houses don’t have roofs. Some villages have foods for just one or two days. Some villages have already run out of food,” he said.

A resident in Ngayapwakkyaing Village in the Pauktaw told Mizzima that although the UN and social organisations had given them humanitarian relief, they were without their main means of self-support.

“Currently, we are not worried about food as donors gave rice, oil and beans to us. But our fishing boats and gear were destroyed, so we can’t go fishing. The villagers have been jobless,” the resident said.

The World Food Programme (WFP), National League for Democracy (NLD) and CRPP donated food including rice to the cyclone victims in villages within Pauktaw, Myebon and Kyaukphyu townships. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also donated 10 million kyat (about US$10,000) to the victims.

“The WFP and CRPP came here to donate rice. If we need it, they will help to dig a well in our village,” the resident said.

The UN children’s welfare organisation, Unicef, supported the provision of 100 temporary learning spaces by the local Parents and Teachers Association in the four affected townships and provided school kits to 7,000 children, the Ocha report said.

The Ngayapwakkyaing resident said, “My village does not have a school so we paid teachers to teach our children just to be literate. But we are jobless so we can’t pay the teachers so our children can’t receive [a proper] education.”

According to a statement on Monday from the UN Country Team in Burma, UN officials, led by the UN Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Burma Bishow Parajuli, travelled last week to several villages in Sittwe and Myebon townships in Arakan State to witness relief and recovery efforts. The delegation briefed international donors on Monday about the visit.

“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 resilience of the affected people has been remarkable,” the statement said, quoting Parajuli after his return to Rangoon.

He was accompanied by the representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the WFP country director and the Rangoon Ocha chief.

The delegation met government officials and staff from UN agencies and international and local NGOs based in Sittwe, the state capital, and Myebon, where the most severe damage had occurred. The three-day mission also brought the delegation to the villages of Minchaung and Shintaung in Myebon and Byinethit in Pauktaw.

“The destruction in these villages has been massive. Up to 70-80 per cent of all houses were completely destroyed and schools and health facilities are severely damaged. People now rely on various emergency supplies, which are distributed widely to the worst-hit areas by the government, international and local NGOs and UN agencies,” Parajuli said in the statement.

“But people are in dire need of more permanent shelter structures and livelihood support,” he said.

The statement said the main gaps in funding were in “early recovery shelter and livelihood support”. It said on Monday, US$20.5 million had been allocated from donors in response to Giri damage, including US$6 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.

The overall funding needs for all sectors for both emergency and early recovery were estimated at US$57 million and the humanitarian community in Burma welcomed continued international funding support, it said.

The European Commission (EC) told Voice of America yesterday it had allocated almost US$4 million in humanitarian relief for Giri victims. In the statement delivered in Thailand, the commission said another US$5 million had been allocated to help victims of recent storms in Vietnam and the Philippines.

Regional EC envoy David Lipman said the contribution showed Europe’s commitment to help those most vulnerable and needy in Burma.

Australia early last month donated US$3 million in assistance to help affected communities and families recover from this disaster and provide essential food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, Ocha said late last month.

Britain, Denmark, Japan and the United States have also made donations.

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