The Caritas network has scaled up its emergency response in Myanmar despite ongoing difficulties with access for international aid teams.
The international Caritas relief effort is now targeting over 60 000 people through local partners with food, temporary shelter, health care, and other aid items in four of the most seriously impacted areas.
Cyclone Nargis made landfall on 2 May, killing 80 000 people with 56 000 still unaccounted for and 2.5 million affected.
“We are reaching 60 000 people in the worst affected areas of Pathein and Yangon, which were badly hit by the storm”, said Mr JP Nelson, Coordinator of the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Response Support Team for Myanmar.
Caritas aid is being distributed through small teams on the ground, who are sourcing food and other supplies locally. More than 300 volunteers have been trained so far with more than 120 people trained 18 May. Volunteers are receiving skills on assessment, logistics, emergency response and accountability.
“It continues to be extremely difficult to operate in the affected areas. The extensive networks we are able to draw on through religious and other organizations within Myanmar allows us access to many of the people who have received little assistance.” said Mr Nelson.
“The amount of aid we are getting through remains significant but is far outweighed by the enormous need that exists particularly in the Irrawaddy Delta region”, said Mr Nelson. “We are still unable to conduct mass distributions and this is raising the growing threat of malnutrition and spreading of disease.
“We are very glad to see the Government of Myanmar is allowing more Asian disaster relief experts in. Fortunately with the wide network of Catholic medical and community organizations throughout Asia and our strong record of working through recent disasters such as Cyclone Sidr and the Tsunami, we are hopeful that we can draw on this expertise to assist the many, many millions of people in Myanmar who require it.”
For more information contact Tim O’Connor in Bangkok on +66 (0) 8 4499 2575 or +61 417 284 831 (Australian mobile) or TimO@caritas.org.au