Humanitarian Workers Reaching Flood Zones in Myanmar to Assist People in Need of Life-saving Aid [EN/MY]

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 06 Aug 2015

More than 330,000 people affected and 88 killed by floods and landslides

(Yangon, 6 August 2015): After weeks of monsoon rains and Cyclone Komen caused massive floods and strong winds across 12 states and regions of Myanmar, humanitarian personnel and relief items are reaching the most affected areas and communities in need of life-saving aid. The United Nations and International NGOs are stepping up their support to the response being led by the Myanmar authorities, civil society groups, local organizations, and the Myanmar Red Cross Society. As of today, more than 387 metric tonnes of food for 103,000 people and 620,000 water treatment tablets have already been distributed as well as other relief items in a response focusing on food, shelter, protection, health, water and sanitation.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and property due to the floods and again extend my heartfelt sympathies to the families of victims and to all communities touched by this disaster,” said Mr Eamonn Murphy, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. in Myanmar. “Now that humanitarian staff are able to reach the most critical areas, we are doing everything in our power to assist the authorities in bringing people the aid they desperately need.”

Humanitarian assessment teams are surmounting logistical challenges to reach isolated areas in Sagaing and Magway Regions and Rakhine and Chin States, and are coordinating closely with the Myanmar authorities and local organizations. The field teams report scenes of widespread devastation to houses, crops, and infrastructure, although flood waters are beginning to recede in some areas.

According to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, as of 6 August more than 330,000 people have been affected, 88 people have died, and more than 217,000 acres of farmland have been destroyed.

“Thousands of people have lost homes, livelihoods, crops and existing food and seed stocks. Food security will be seriously affected,” said WFP Country Director Dom Scalpelli. “In coordination with the Myanmar Government, we are acting quickly to provide emergency relief and prevent this disaster from exacerbating existing food insecurity and malnutrition.”

‘We are especially concerned for the welfare and safety of children, who are particularly vulnerable in disasters,” said Jose Ravano, Acting Country Director for Save the Children in Myanmar. “Schools are shut, families displaced and homes inundated. Children may be in distress due to displacement and destruction, and some have fled their homes without essential supplies.”

While the weather has improved, water is now flowing south towards the Bago, Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions and there are concerns that river levels will hit critical levels and cause further flooding in new areas.

“The poorest children and families are going to be the hardest hit, and we need to build their resilience so they can cope with these kinds of crises,” said UNICEF Acting Representative in Myanmar Shalini Bahuguna. “We are working with the Government to get emergency messages out to local communities through radio, to tell people how to prevent water borne diseases.”

International donors have already pledged new funds to the Myanmar Government and to the humanitarian community to provide further support to people affected by the floods. The UN in Myanmar has also called for additional funding from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and from the Myanmar Emergency Response Fund (ERF) for critical response activities.

“The humanitarian response at the moment is prioritizing immediate life-saving needs, but as the waters recede and people return home, the international aid community will shift its focus to help communities rebuild their lives and livelihoods over the next weeks and months,” said Mr. Murphy.

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