Tuesday, May 20, 2008

USAID Responds to Cyclone Nargis


USAID/OFDA Assistance to Burma: $5,508,346
USAID/FFP Assistance to Burma: $12,000,000
DOD Assistance to Burma: $1,645,400
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance to Burma: $19,153,746


* The cyclone affected approximately 2.4 million people, and cyclone-related deaths could range from approximately 63,000 to more than 101,000, according to OCHA. On May 19, OCHA reported that 1.4 million individuals are currently in severely affected areas of Burma and require prioritized assistance. As of May 16, the GOB had raised the official death toll from Cyclone Nargis to more than 77,000. According to GOB state media, nearly 56,000 people remain missing. The official number of injured stands at nearly 19,400 people.
* Aid agencies report that customs clearance in Rangoon is slowly improving, and relief supplies consigned to NGOs are arriving in Rangoon without GOB obstruction. To assess whether assistance is effectively reaching beneficiaries, NGOs continue to highlight the need for improved humanitarian access into affected areas. While NGO capacity to absorb relief commodities within Burma remains limited, the GOB has explicitly stated that NGOs with existing authorization are permitted to operate in Burma to receive, transport, and distribute relief goods. Humanitarian Access
* According to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) assessment team, access to the affected areas for the provision of humanitarian assistance remains the leading concern for the international community. The ASEAN team reports the possibility of additional deaths and increased morbidity due to disease outbreaks and malnutrition, which could be avoided through a more coordinated effort between the GOB and international relief organizations. On May 19, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes visited Labutta and Wakema townships in Ayeyarwady Division and met with humanitarian agencies. U.N. Coordinator Holmes also met with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein on May 20 and urged greater access for international relief efforts.
* According to OCHA, local authorities in Labutta township granted humanitarian workers access to villages outside Labutta town and to eight GOB distribution stations for the delivery of food aid.
* The U.N. Logistics Cluster in Rangoon has contracted three barges for an interagency common transport service. The first barge is scheduled to depart Rangoon on May 20, delivering Action Contre la Faim and U.N. World Food Program (WFP) cargo to Bogale township in Ayeyarwady Division.
* The U.N. Logistics Cluster has obtained 30 trucks for interagency use in Rangoon and is considering the establishment of a fuel storage area to ensure adequate fuel supplies for the truck fleet.
* According to the U.N. Health Cluster, major hospitals in cyclone-affected regions of Burma are functioning and have access to medical supplies. However, OCHA reports that the cyclone has damaged or destroyed more than 50 percent of health care structures in the outlying areas, which remain difficult to reach with medical assistance and supplies. In addition, limited access to cyclone-affected areas due to GOB restrictions continues to hamper international efforts to provide emergency health services.
* As of May 18, humanitarian organizations from the U.N. Health Cluster had provided 350 metric tons of medical supplies and equipment in response to the cyclone, including 3 million water purification tablets, 90,000 water containers, and more than 50,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets, as well as emergency health kits and essential medicines requested by GOB national and local health authorities. The GOB Ministry of Health is sending medical assistants and midwives to health centers and clinics to conduct chlorination of water, vaccinations, and disease surveillance, as well as to support mobile health outreach teams.
* Health partners continue to report increased numbers of severe watery diarrhea; however, the number of cases remains within the normal seasonal range, according to OCHA. The GOB Ministry of Health, U.N. agencies, and NGOs working in the affected areas are implementing an early warning system to prepare for a potential outbreak of severe watery diarrhea.
Child Protection
* The U.N. estimates that approximately 40 percent of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm are children. According to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), psychosocial support to children impacted by the cyclone is a priority need. According to the U.N. Protection Cluster, aid agencies have established 55 functioning child-friendly spaces to date in Rangoon and Ayeyarwady divisions, with cluster members in the process of setting up an additional 92 sites in affected areas.
* The cluster has conducted assessments of separated and unaccompanied children due to the cyclone in Ayeyarwady Division’s Labutta, Myaungmya, and Bogale towns and will report findings in the coming days.
GOB Response
* On May 19, the GOB declared three days of national mourning beginning on May 20 for victims of Cyclone Nargis.
* On May 19, state media reported that the GOB had spent approximately $46.3 million on relief and rehabilitation efforts to date.


* On May 5, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Shari Villarosa declared a disaster in Burma due to the effects of Cyclone Nargis. In response, USAID/OFDA deployed a USAID/DART and immediately provided $250,000 to UNICEF, WFP, and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for emergency food, water and sanitation, and shelter assistance.
* On May 6, an additional $3 million from USAID/OFDA was allocated for the provision of emergency relief assistance, including $1 million to the American Red Cross and $2 million for NGO partners.
* On May 12, USAID Administrator Henrietta H. Fore announced $13 million in food aid and logistics assistance through WFP.
* From May 12 to 20, the USAID/DART and DOD coordinated the delivery of nearly $1.2 million of USAID/OFDA relief commodities to Rangoon on 36 DOD C-130 flights. The relief supplies will provide assistance to more than 113,000 beneficiaries.
* U.S. Navy ships deployed in the region for training exercises can be redirected, if necessary to support relief efforts. The U.S. Military continues to make plans to support potential relief operations to Burma.

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