Interview with Juli Niebuhr, MSF Emergency Co-ordinator in Yangon, Myanmar.
Photo: MSF | Juli Niebuhr, MSF Emergency Coordinator. Yangon, Myanmar.
There are concerns about a new storm brewing in the Irrawaddy delta region. Are you seeing any signs of this and how are the teams preparing?
We are closely monitoring the meteological reports but at the moment it doesn’t look like an immediate threat. However, the rainy season has just begun and there are frequent heavy rainstorms. Given the fact that massive numbers of people have no shelter this is of great concern to us.
What is the medical situation for the victims of the cyclone?
Our medical teams have now done several thousand consultations. We are in the process of collating data from our medical teams working in over twenty locations. Given the communication difficulties this is a massive task. Of the patients we have seen, the majority of health problems are still infected wound, as well as fevers and diarrhea. We have not observed any outbreaks yet. We see a lot of people who are in a weakened state with not enough drinking water and without any shelter.
How would you describe the situation in the worst affected areas right now?
The situation varies depending on the location. In those villages affected by the storm we see widespread material damage. In those villages more affected by flooding you see many more dead bodies. Some villages have been completely wiped out. Most of the survivors have not just lost family members, but also their homes and sources of food and water. Every day the scale of our operation is increasing. We have so far managed to deliver 275 tons of supplies to people in the Delta area. We bring the supplies by truck from Yangon to our support base in Pathein, from where further distribution has to take place by boat. MSF has contracted ten boats. Navigation is very challenging on the Delta. Yesterday one of our contracted boats capsized, but fortunately no-one was hurt.