Monday, 18 November 2019

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Burmese opposition leaders seek more support post-Giri

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burmese pro-democracy leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi are seeking further support for victims of Cyclone Giri in Arakan State from the international community, a letter to be published tomorrow shows. 

Cyclone-Giri-2010-storyThe leaders included other prominent politicians, Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP) members, independent candidates who contested last month’s national elections and heads of the Democratic Party (Myanmar) and Democracy and Peace Party. They were set to publish a letter appealing for added help urging the international community to support the victims.

“It’s a letter to urge the international community to offer the cyclone victims more support. We will send copies to the international community tomorrow,” National League for Democracy spokesman Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima.

The letter contains information compiled by NLD and CRPP members who visited cyclone-ravaged areas mid-December, sources from both groups said. The NLD also donated 10 million kyat (about US$10,000) to victims during their visit.

Residents affected by the cyclone had received a small percentage of their basic needs, the letter said. It added that the NLD had received about 2,000 letters from victims seeking help and that Pauktaw and Myebon townships needed an estimated US$6 million in relief funds.

The townships needs extended to dyke construction, 850 fishing boats and equipment, renovations of about 120 schools and 70 monasteries, digging of wells and the construction of reservoirs, Ohn Kyaing said.

The Rangoon branch of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) said on December 20 that the devastated region needed an estimated US$57 million, but it had received just US$20.5 million, which was just 45 per cent of their needs, it said.

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 cyclone affected a total of 260,000 people and more than 100,000 were rendered homeless.

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

The victims urgently needed food, shelter, health facilities and schools, relief organisations said. 

The European Commission (EC) told Voice of America last week that it had allocated almost US$4 million in humanitarian relief for Giri victims. In a 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 the disaster and for the provision of 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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