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May 21, 2008 (DVB), HIV/AIDS activist Phyu Phyu Thin has taken a team of relief workers to provide assistance to a remote village that aid efforts have so far failed to reach.
Cyclone victims living in remote areas of the Irrawaddy delta's Dadaye township have been facing severe hardship, food shortages and poor living conditions because rescue teams have not come to help them, according to Phyu Phyu Thin.
Recently released from detention, Phyu Phyu Thin went to Yayphyankone village located adjacent to the sea in Dadaye township on Sunday to donate relief supplies to cyclone victims.
Lawyer U Aung Thein accompanied her team, who distributed clothing, medicine, cooking pots and plates among the survivors.
U Aung Thein told DVB that immediate provision of food, shelter and healthcare provisions are urgently needed for the victims.
DVB interviewed Phyu Phyu Thin to find out the situation of the people there in detail.
PPT: The village is hard to reach, far away from town, so nobody has been there to help people. We were the first relief group to arrive, 15 days after the cyclone. Before the disaster, there were over 500 people in the village. One hundred and twenty-six people were killed by the storm so only 300 or so remain. Most of the houses and two schools were also destroyed. Currently, there are only a few houses in the village. They are in dire need of help.
DVB: How are they surviving?
PPT: Most of them are sheltering in the monastery there while some are staying at the remaining houses. The monastery was not totally destroyed. There are so many children in the village. As for food, the adults go to other places to look for food and then bring it back to the village to eat together with their families. They also have some rice left to cook but it is wet so they put it out in the sun before the cook it.
DVB: Did you see any dead bodies there?
PPT: We saw dead bodies lying by the water. We also saw dead buffalo and cows floating. There is still a bad smell swirling around.
DVB: What is the mental state of the refugees there?
PPT: We saw some women with abnormal conditions. Some children look unconscious since they no longer have their parents. We saw a woman running around shouting, "Teacher, please come quickly, come quickly". The cyclone has affected people both physically and mentally. We need to treat them and take better care of their mental conditions. A lot of work needs to be done to provide the basic necessities for their survival and rehabilitate their lives in the future.
Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet