Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Families still waiting for news of detained relatives - Zarganar

The families of Zarganar, Zaw Thet Htway and others involved in voluntary aid work for cyclone victims who were arrested by Burmese authorities say they are still waiting for information on their relatives.

--Read More: here

Over 400 orphans still search for parents: UNICEF

Two months after the deadly Cyclone Nargis ripped across Burma's southwestern coastal divisions, more than 400 children are still frantically searching for their parents, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday.

--Read More: here

Cyclone Orphans Take Low-Paid Work to Survive

Using a small oil lamp to seal the ends, a woman and
two children pack cheroots in to plastic bags in a small factory in Pegu,
58 kilometers (36 miles) north of Rangoon.
Sources said children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis
had migrated to the cities to find work. (Photo: AFP)

The Irrawaddy News

Many children orphaned by Cyclone Nargis are being employed in low-paid jobs in the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon, according to monks in the region.

Monasteries throughout the region opened their doors to orphans, but a monk in Mawlamyinegyunn Township said children who lost their parents in the storm often preferred to live with adult survivors in their own communities, where they found work in the paddy fields and fish farms.

Other children who had lost their parents had migrated to the cities to find work in tea shops, small businesses and households, often encouraged by family members, the monk said. Some were as young as 10.

A senior monk in Mawlamyinegyunn said his monastery had sent 20 orphaned children to Phaungdawoo monastery in Mandalay, where they were being educated.

“There are so many children who desperately need care, and we are now trying to collect information and data about orphans so we can help them,” he said.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Monday that 428 children had been separated from their parents by the cyclone. More than 50 centers had been established to help them, said UNICEF spokesman Zafrin Chowdhury.

According to government figures, more than 84,000 people died in the cyclone and 54,000 are missing. The most vulnerable victims of the disaster were children, UNICEF said.

The International Labour Organization has expressed concern about the possibility that children may be forced to help in reconstruction work, and has warned UN agencies and relief workers of “the increased risk of incidences of forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and migrant labor as the authorities and individuals come to grips with the sheer size of the tragedy.”

Rangoon-based journalist Aung Thet Wyine contributed to this report.
--Read More: here

Junta Profits from Growing Gap in Value of Cash and FECs

The growing gap between the value of the US dollar and Burmese foreign exchange certificates (FECs)—introduced in 1994 to ensure that most hard currency that enters the country ends up in government hands—is turning Cyclone Nargis relief efforts into a major cash cow for Burma’s ruling junta.

--Read More: here

Burma aid tents through at last

Cornwall-based disaster aid charity Shelterbox has just received the first pictures of its aid helping victims of the Burma cyclone.

Hundreds of tents have been erected as part of the international response to the 2 May cyclone which left more than 130,000 people dead or missing.

--Read More: here

Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis Revised Emergency Appeal No. MDRMM002

Relief Web

GLIDE no TC-2008-000057-MMR

This Revised Emergency Appeal seeks CHF 73,987,907 (USD 72,537,164 or EUR 45,955,222) in cash, kind or services to support the Myanmar Red Cross Society to assist 500,000 beneficiaries (100,000 households) for 36 months.

This operation will be completed by May 2011; a Final Report will be made available by August 2011 (three months after the end of the operation).

Appeal history:

- 16 May 2008: An Emergency Appeal was launched for CHF 52,857,809 (USD 50.8 million or EUR 32.7 million) to assist 100,000 households for 36 months.

- 6 May 2008: A preliminary Emergency Appeal was launched for CHF 6,290,909 (USD 5.9 million or EUR 3.86 million) to assist 30,000 households for six months.

- 5 May 2008: CHF 200,000 (USD 190,000 or EUR 123,000) was allocated from the International Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF).

This Revised Emergency Appeal reflects the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ continued commitment towards assisting the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) in meeting the huge needs of communities affected by Cyclone Nargis. This appeal builds on the emergency appeal launched on 16 May, and the preliminary emergency appeal of 6 May. It provides an update on the progress and challenges of the relief and recovery operation (based on available information), and in particular, outlines the way forward for priority sectors.

Progress of relief and recovery operation


Since the cyclone, MRCS staff and volunteers, with the support of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, have worked tirelessly to provide assistance to those affected by the disaster. To date, over 500,000 beneficiaries have been reached with emergency relief of water, food and relief items. About 80 per cent of the beneficiaries are in the Ayeyarwady Delta, and between 10,000 and 15,000 people are being reached every day. Up to 2 July, 55 Red Cross Red Crescent chartered relief flights, 97 regular commercial flights and two courier flights, have landed in Yangon, carrying a total of 1,570 tonnes of relief items. Transportation by sea has also begun, with about 100 tonnes of relief items received so far. It is estimated that around 10,000 MRCS volunteers are active in the relief efforts at any one time. They have been providing assistance to people throughout the affected regions. The MRCS also continues to scale up its first aid and community health efforts

Present situation

Over the last few weeks, the operation continued to face various challenges. Guiding principles on carrying out aid and assistance activities were issued for the international humanitarian community, by the Myanmar government on 10 June. This caused some confusion among the international organizations and the government authorities, as to how they should be implemented and created delays in the processing of visas and travel permission. However, this has now been largely clarified and delays experienced in receiving permission to travel to the delta appear to have eased. There is also some hope that information, analysis and assessments will be improved. As the humanitarian operation continues to be allowed to develop, there is evidence of improved operational infrastructure and it is clear that the delivery of muchneeded support to the beneficiaries is more effective and comprehensive.

It has been widely reported that the magnitude of destruction of Cyclone Nargis on Myanmar and its people is unprecedented. MRCS had no previous experience in responding to a natural disaster of these proportions. This situation understandably created significant constraints which continue to be identified and tackled, with the support of the International Federation and other partners of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement.

The unpredictable and complex nature of the operational context continues to have an undeniable impact on the response. It is requested that if particular operational constraints continue to affect the operation, partners agree that the resources pledged can be re-negotiated for use in other related programming.

Despite all of these constraints, the MRCS and its volunteers in particular, with assistance from the Movement, have been recognized for the immediate response on the ground from day one. The MRCS, in its auxiliary role to the Myanmar government, is widely recognized as one of the leaders in the national response to the disaster.

Moving forward

With the revision of this three-year plan, the operation will continue to concentrate on immediate needs until they are met. The plan also provides for the development and implementation of programmes designed to address medium to long-term needs in the following sectors: relief, shelter, health and care; water, sanitation and hygiene; food security and livelihoods; and the cross-cutting measures of disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

Lessons from this operation have highlighted the importance of and the need to support local communities with the capacity to respond to and mitigate the effects of natural disasters. In order to achieve this within an environment of poor infrastructure which includes transportation and communication difficulties, an integrated or multi-sectoral approach is imperative.

It is crucial to recovery that communities themselves take an active part in identifying, preparing for and working towards reducing the risks and vulnerabilities that they face. This is central to the success of the

operation and incorporates the way much of the affected population begins recovery and responds to the effects of floods and other natural occurrences.

How we work

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

The International Federation’s activities are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Contact information

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Federation zone office in Kuala Lumpur:

Jagan Chapagain, deputy head of zone office, phone: +6012 215 3765, email: jagan.chapagain@ifrc.org

Amy Gaver, head of disaster management unit, phone: +6012 220 1174, email: amy.gaver@ifrc.org

For pledges of funding:

Penny Elghady, resource mobilization and PMER coordinator, phone: +6012 230 8634, email: penny.elghady@ifrc.org

For mobilization of relief items:

Jeremy Francis, regional logistics coordinator, phone: +6012 298 9752, fax: +603 2168 8573, email: jeremy.francis@ifrc.org

For media/communications:

Jason Smith, communications manager, phone: +6012 387 0829, email: jason.smith@ifrc.org

Federation secretariat in Geneva:

Christine South, operations coordinator Asia Pacific, phone: +41 22 730 4529; mobile: +41 79 308 9824; email: christine.south@ifrc.org

--Source: here

The hungry are fed, but Myanmar survivors' mental anguish goes on 2 months after cyclone

As the crowd gathered in the hall of a Buddhist monastery to receive their free lunch, Hnin Mya sat listlessly, oblivious to the smell of warm curry, the sounds of clinking utensils and the chatter of her compatriots.

--Read More: here

Junta Profits from Growing Gap in Value of Cash and FECs

The growing gap between the value of the US dollar and Burmese foreign exchange certificates (FECs)—introduced in 1994 to ensure that most hard currency that enters the country ends up in government hands—is turning Cyclone Nargis relief efforts into a major cash cow for Burma’s ruling junta.

--Read More: here

Food shortage threatens Burmese survivors

Two months after Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that more than 1 million cyclone victims have yet to receive any assistance. In lieu of effective help for farmers in the country’s devastated rice bowl, the World Food Program has warned that almost 1 million people will need food assistance for at least the next six months.

--Read More: here