Myanmar

Myanmar: Norwegian Minister for Development visits cyclone-affected villages

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(Yangon, 2 June 2010) Norway's minister for Development and Environment, Mr. Erik Solheim, has concluded a one-day visit to cyclone-affected areas of Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divions.

The Norwegian delegation, accompanied by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli, on Monday witnessed the impact of activities in shelter, disaster risk reduction, environment and livelihoods, implemented by UN-HABITAT and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in three villages in Kungyangon and Kyaiklat townships.

Both townships were severely affected by Cyclone Nargis with an estimated 250,000 people directly impacted by the disaster. Lives were lost, homes and schools were flattened, crops and trees were destroyed and people were derived of jobs and income opportunities.

Two years after the destructions, many survivors have been able to rebuild their lives and move towards recovery. Villagers in Myit Tan told the minister how they had benefited from assistance in the form of microcredit programmes, disaster risk reduction training and infrastructure and forestry projects.

"Norway is aware of the suffering that you have all experienced. We cannot bring back the dead, but we can do our best to support the living and move towards full recovery for the many people affected by the cyclone," said Mr. Erik Solheim in a direct address to the villagers.

"We are here to listen to your stories and get a better understanding of needs and challenges for the future, said Mr. Erik Solheim, who will be in Myanmar for a period of three full days that will include meetings with government officials and members of the humanitarian community. He last visited Myanmar in January 2009.

Cyclone Nargis struck on 2 and 3 May 2008, causing wide-spread devastation in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Southern Yangon Division. 140,000 people lost their lives and 2.4 million people were severely affected.

"People we met were still in the process of recovering and are still vulnerable. Further help in housing, school reconstruction and activities that create jobs were some of the needs expressed by the communities. Norway and several other donors have contributed generously to the relief and early recovery. But people will need help to rebuild their livelihoods for years to come," said the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli.

For further information please contact:

Esben Q. Harboe, Special Assistant to the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, mob: (95-9) 5074853, e-mail: esben.harboe@undp.org

Trond Viken, Head of Information, Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Norway, e-mail trond.viken@mfa.no