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Activists and locals in the Irrawaddy delta town of Labutta held a multi-faith prayer on Friday in commemoration of the Cyclone Nargis tragedy which ravaged the delta on this day in 2008, leaving up to 140,000 dead and some 2 million homeless.
Thet Tun Naing, the Labutta chairman of the Myanmar Youth Organisation, said the prayer session was held at the town’s Laymyitna Buddha stupa on Friday afternoon, in remembrance of the thousands of villagers who lost their lives in the cyclone, and also to promote religious tolerance.
“We are holding a multi-faith prayer session so that people of different religions can participate, and also because we believe that in doing so, we can promote openness and clear up suspicions and doubts between the different communities,” he said. “This could help prevent religious riots.”
A Labutta resident said many of those affected by the cyclone are still unable to get back on their feet six years on.
“So many of those who were affected by the cyclone still await assistance – some don’t even have a place to live as the houses provided under the rehabilitation scheme were not very durable and there was always favouritism in distributing assistance,” said the resident.
“In the end, it was only the [government-backed] contractors and NGOs who gained from the disaster.”
However, Thet Tun Naing said all victims of the cyclone now have returned to their villages. “There are no more refugees,” he said.