Tuesday, 29 July 2008

More funding required to help cyclone victims: private donors, volunteers

By Mungpi
28 July 2008

New Delhi (Mizzima) — Burmese private donors, volunteers, and social groups, during their first informal meeting on Monday, said there have not been enough support and funding to help the cyclone victims both during the emergency relief and during the reconstruction phase.

The issue of funding shortage was raised at an informal meeting held at the American Centre in Rangoon among Burmese private donors, volunteers, social groups and international aid agencies.

"Most of the private donors, volunteers and socials groups have all said that there has not been enough support both during the emergency phase and the reconstruction phase," Dr. Myint Oo, a private doctor, who is one of the organizers of the event said.

Dr. Myint Oo said the event was planned to facilitate the exchange of information and experience sharing among those who have been helping cyclone victims in Burma's southwestern coastal divisions of Rangoon and Irrawaddy.

During the meeting, most aid workers and volunteers said their experience shows funding from the international community is less and not enough to help cyclone victims.

"It is amazing to see a lot of Burmese volunteers, and small groups springing up in the wake of cyclone Nargis and extending a helping hand to survivors," Dr. Myint Oo said.

He added that these groups have played crucial roles from providing food to cyclone victims to burying corpses caused by the cyclone since day one. Following the onslaught of Cyclone Nargis on Burma's coastal divisions on May 2 and 3, the country's military rulers initially were reluctant to allow international aid groups to come in to help the victims.

Only after nearly a month, following the negotiation between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Burma's military Supremo Snr. Gen. Than Shwe in mid-May, did the Burmese generals open their doors to let in aid groups to the rescue of cyclone survivors.

"But there has not been enough donations and funding to help all the victims," Dr. Myint Oo, who has also been involved in social activities, commented.

Meanwhile, the United Nations in early July revised its flash appeals for Burma's cyclone victims, asking for a total of US $ 481 million.

But according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Burma, they have been able to raise less than half or US$ 187 million of the total flash appeal.

Mark Canning, the British Ambassador to Burma, who was one of the speakers for Monday's event, 'Forum on International Relief effort', said his government was committed to provide more funding to help the cyclone victims to recover.

"Mark Canning said the UK would further provide additional assistance to help the cyclone victims in reconstructing and rebuilding their lives," Dr. Myint Oo told Mizzima quoting from Canning's speech at the meeting.

Dr. Myint Oo said while the Burmese private donors, volunteers and aid workers have been useful in the initial stages in providing emergency relief such as food and shelter, after nearly three months, the cyclone victims' needs were more of reconstructing and rebuilding their lives.

"This calls for long-term rehabilitation that could only be affordable by the government and international aid groups," said Myint Oo, adding that most Burmese private donors could not afford to continue helping the cyclone victims as they would have to return to their normal work.

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