VOA - 24 August 2008
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As Burma recovers from the devastation of the May 2nd, Cyclone Nargis, the United States and other international donors continue to provide needed help. The worst disaster in Burma's recorded history, Cyclone Nargis killed up to one-hundred-thousand people. Thousands more are still missing. Damage is estimated at over four-billion dollars.
Relief agency officials say that by now almost all of the more than two-million survivors of the storm and seawater surge have received some food aid. About half of the estimated four-hundred-eighty-eight-thousand households have received some building materials. But the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that despite the delivery of more than twenty-five-thousand tons of food assistance, people in remote areas, "are still living in dire conditions."
To help those most in need, the U.S. Agency for International Development is supporting nonprofit partners, such as Church World Service and the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, a non-governmental organization based in France, to resume agriculture and other kinds work in vulnerable areas.
Already, eight-hundred drinking ponds that were fouled with salt water have been filtered and cleared of debris, dead animals, and, most tragic, human bodies. Work is underway to repair nine-hundred schools and establish four-hundred temporary safe learning places for sixty-thousand children.
Relief workers are distributing fishing nets as well as seeds and other agricultural inputs in time for the monsoon-planting season, which will end this month. After a tardy response that put many Burmese at risk, the Burmese government has gradually opened the country to outside help.
The U.S. government has given fifty-million dollars in disaster aid to Burma. From May 12 to June 22, the U.S. flew one-hundred-eighty-five airlifts of U.S., Thai, United Nations and non-governmental organization relief supplies from Thailand to Burma. At an August 7 meeting with Burmese democracy activists during his visit to Bangkok, Thailand, President George W. Bush said he is "pleased that a lot of the aid that we paid for is actually getting to the people themselves."