HRDP to focus efforts on helping farmers

Jun 18, 2008 (DVB), The Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network has said it will focus on supporting farmers instead of relief work, but urged others to continue to provide much-needed aid to cyclone survivors.

The rights group said it would put its food and medical assistance programmes on hold while it concentrates instead on redeveloping agriculture.

U Myint Aye of HRDP said the group would start by helping farmers in Ngaputaw township.

"We're now preparing to pump the saltwater off their land so they can restart their cultivation. We expect to start working on that within the next couple of days," he said.

"We will start with the village groups in Ngaputaw, which has about 7000 acres of farmlands."

Myint Aye said HRDP did not have the resources to tackle the whole area, but they hoped to get more.

"We have two hand tractors and two water pumps to do the job," he said.

"We are going to start with that and then see if we can expand the resources."

HRDP will also continue to provide antenatal care for a pregnant woman in Labutta township and two others in Bogalay.

Myint Aye urged the United Nations and private donors to increase assistance to cyclone victims, saying that dead bodies were still floating around affected areas and some refugees needed more help.

"We still need more donors, as the cyclone victims are facing huge problems," Myint Aye said.

"HRDP is a very small network, and this kind of relief work can only be accomplished by huge organisations like the UN and the international community," he said.

"There is a lot more still to be done to raise the people's physical and spiritual level back to normal, so I would like to urge the UN, the international community and the Burmese government and all the individual donors not to let up in their efforts to help the victims."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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