UN Needs $375 Million to Aid Cyclone-Hit Myanmar and Bangladesh

UN Needs $375 Million to Aid Cyclone-Hit Myanmar and Bangladesh
Damage caused by Cyclone Mocha in Sittwe, Myanmar pictured in this
handout released May 17, 2023. Partners Relief and Development/Handout

DELTASION.com – The recent devastating cyclone that swept through
Myanmar and Bangladesh has left millions of people in urgent need of food,
medicine, and other essential supplies. The United Nations (UN) is calling
for $375 million in funding to assist those affected and facilitate the
recovery process in the affected regions.

Race Against Time to Provide Shelter and Prevent Disease Outbreaks

Western Myanmar and neighboring provinces in Bangladesh faced the full
force of Typhoon Mocha on May 14, resulting in significant loss of life and
widespread damage. The affected area is home to a considerable population of
Rohingya Muslims and refugees, intensifying the need for immediate
humanitarian assistance.

The UN has specified that an additional $122 million is required for
Myanmar, with $211 million of existing funds to be redirected toward the
typhoon response. Additionally, $42 million is urgently needed to support
relief efforts in Bangladesh.

Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the UN resident coordinator for Myanmar,
emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “We are now in a race
against time to provide safe shelter to people in all affected communities
and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.” He further urged donors to
extend their support and contribute generously to the relief efforts.

Access Challenges and Warehouse Stockpiling

Humanitarian organizations are currently facing significant challenges in
accessing the worst-hit areas due to restrictions imposed by the military
government in Myanmar. Despite the presence of essential relief supplies
stored in warehouses in Yangon, the commercial capital, access to these
supplies remains limited as the cleanup process is delayed, more than a week
after the disaster struck.

An anonymous senior volunteer revealed to Reuters that the warehouses are
filled with supplies waiting to be distributed. However, their efforts are
hindered by the lack of unhindered access to the affected regions. If
granted access, the aid agencies would be able to empty their warehouses,
send supplies to areas like Sittwe, and provide assistance on a larger
scale. Due to concerns of potential reprisals from the military, aid workers
are cautious about speaking openly about the challenges they face.

No comment from the junta spokesman was available at the time of
reporting. The military leadership has stated that 145 people lost their
lives in the cyclone and aid is being dispatched to the affected areas.

Survivors in Urgent Need of Assistance

A survivor in western Myanmar, speaking on the condition of anonymity for
security reasons, expressed the dire conditions they are facing. Aid,
including blankets and mosquito nets, has reached their village, which
consists of approximately 400 households. However, since May 19, numerous
homes have been destroyed, leaving many without shelter or access to basic
necessities. The survivor highlighted the urgent need for medicine, clinics,
and increased food supplies.

Supporting Affected Regions in Myanmar and Bangladesh

The funds allocated will primarily assist 1.6 million individuals affected
in five regions of Myanmar: Chin, Sagaing, Magway, Kachin, and Rakhine.
These areas are home to significant populations of Rohingya Muslims, a
persecuted minority who have faced rejection by successive Myanmar

While sophisticated disaster management systems in Bangladesh played a
crucial role in saving lives, they were unable to prevent severe damage to
infrastructure and homes. Gwyn Lewis, the UN resident coordinator in Dhaka,
emphasized the pressing need for financial support to aid in the recovery of
the affected communities.

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