Sunday, July 14, 2024
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UK govt warns against ‘forgetting’ Giri

Britain has pledged aid to more than 100,000 people in western Burma still lacking adequate food and water following cyclone Giri last month.

It comes as the Japanese foreign ministry today announced it had offered $US500,000 for the delivery of food aid through the World Food Programme (WFP) to victims of the 22 October cyclone, which left nearly 90,000 people homeless in Arakan state.

A statement from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) said that more than 260,000 people had been severely affected “and are in urgent need of emergency aid”.

In addition, local medical facilities were washed away, “causing the local health care system to collapse”, the statement said.

“This disaster was in danger of being forgotten, ignored and unseen by the international community,” said the Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell.

The past two weeks in Burma have been dominated by the 7 November elections and the release one week later of opposition icon Aung San Suu Kyi, but the situation in several townships in Arakan state remains critical.

“Thousands of families have lost their homes, crops have been flooded, houses destroyed and villages wiped out. Many families are completely dependant on aid for their survival.

He added that unless urgent assistance is given, “the situation will continue to deteriorate, as a lack of food and disease spreads amongst the survivors”. According to aid agencies cited in the statement, more than 200,000 people will need emergency food aid for at least the next three months.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said last week that 16,187 hectares of rice paddy – or 40 to 50 percent of the harvestable area – were destroyed by Giri. In contrast, May 2008’s cyclone Nargis – Burma’s worst recorded natural disaster – destroyed around 1.75 million hectares of farmland, or 30 percent of the wet season rice area for the entire country.


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