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Hungry Season Looms Large In Myanmar As Number Of Injured And Missing People Increase Dramatically

Today, torrential rains blasted the up to 2.5 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis, many of whom were migrating from the most affected areas in search of basic survival necessities. Damaged infrastructure and communications, as well as flooding, have posed significant logistical challenges to relief efforts and movement of international relief workers to disaster-hit areas is still restricted.

"In Yangon, our assessment team reached all the way down to the coast, going mainly by motorbikes. Roads are deteriorating because of the rain, so we are hiring small boats to reach these areas," said CARE”s Country Director in Myanmar, Brian Agland. "We have to go up estuaries and we have to look at how we get food to these areas."

Meanwhile, Myanmar state television reported the latest casualty numbers from the cyclone: the official number of dead and missing people has nearly doubled to 78,000 and 55,917 respectively, and the number of injured persons has increased from 1,403 to 19,359.

Severe weather warnings are issued for the Irrawaddy delta region for the next 24-36 hours, with heavy rainfall predicted. Even worse, Myanmar”s annual monsoon season is only a couple of weeks away. As explained in Dr. Jeff Masters” Wunder Blog, "the capital of Yangon averages about one inch of rain per month in the period just before the monsoon starts, and twenty inches per month thereafter."

Access to Myanmar by essential expatriate staff has improved, flights carrying relief items have been getting in to the country, and the Myanmar government and humanitarian partners are reaching an increasing number of affected persons, but the levels of aid getting into the country remain far below what is required to meet the needs on the ground. It is critical that more personnel and emergency supplies are granted entry into the country, not only to assist people with basic necessities, but to provide them with seeds and fertilizer and prepare them for the upcoming rice production season.

To date, CARE has been able to assist 80,000 people in Myanmar who need it most.
Posted by webmaster on May 16, 2008 7:00 PM America/New_York

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