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Myanmar relief efforts underway

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BANGKOK: With the death toll in Myanmar now feared to be more than 100,000, a number of aid organizations have started relief efforts in the hardest-hit areas.

World Vision is reporting that it is already providing clothing as well as tarpaulins, blankets, rice and drinking water in the capital, Yangon.

As of yesterday, World Vision had delivered 34.8 metric tons of rice, 18,000 liters of drinking water and 150 gallons of diesel for water pump generators to people in need. Clothing, blankets and tarpaulins have also been handed out to people living in six World Vision program areas in Yangon.

World Vision estimates that up to 2 million people may be affected by Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the area.

Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday sent four aircraft loaded with food aid and other relief items that were expected to reach thousands of people today.

A total of 45 metric tons of high-energy biscuits (HEBs) is expected to arrive on three flights of WFP-chartered aircraft at Yangon airport early this morning – the first UN flights to arrive in the city.

By yesterday, a total of 90 tons of rice had been distributed by WFP and NGO partners in Irrawaddy Division townships and Yangon.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimates that 95% of homes were destroyed in the low-lying delta region of the Irrawaddy River. The Myanmar Red Cross has been handing out relief supplies, such as clean drinking water, plastic sheeting, clothing, kitchen items and insecticide-treated bed nets to help prevent malaria.

Additionally, the International Federation has sent a first deployment of shelter kits from Kuala Lumpur and has released an initial 200,000 Swiss francs (US$189,000) to support the Red Cross relief effort.

Relief efforts have been hampered by the Myanmar government’s reluctance to lift restrictions on movement of commodities and international staff, the WFP reported. Several agencies and countries, including Thailand, have pledged aid but are still awaiting visa and goods-import approvals to be granted.

The Gazette has yet to learn of any government-led local relief efforts underway in Phuket, as the central government is handling aid coordination from Bangkok.

Readers who know of any private aid efforts being organized in Phuket are encouraged to contact the Gazette with details on how people can donate and volunteer.

Details on the major aid agencies’ relief work in Myanmar and how to donate can be found on their websites:

UN World Food Programme: www.wfp.org

Red Cross: www.ifrc.org

World Vision: www.wvi.org

 

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