MSF brings aid, more staff and materials ready to go Immediately after cyclone Nargis hit several regions in Myanmar, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams in the country began assessing and responding to the needs of people in Yangon and neighbouring areas. MSF’s first assessments show that in the Daala and Twantey zones, south of Yangon, home to 300,000 inhabitants, 80 per cent of buildings have been destroyed and some parts of the region are still flooded under one metre of water.

Photo : AP Images | A Myanmar girl makes her way past a bus station destroyed by a last weekend cyclone, Tuesday 6 May 2008, in Yangon. Myanmar announced Tuesday it is delaying a crucial constitutional referendum in areas badly hit by a cyclone that killed more than 10,000 people and may have left as many as a million homeless. Officials feared the death toll could soar.

Circulating freely, MSF teams have distributed food and plastic sheeting, and have begun treating water in Yangon. In the outskirts of Yangon, MSF organized the distribution of plastic sheeting, jerrycans and fuel for water pumps to some 5,000 people. Yesterday teams were also able to distribute one week’s worth of food rations composed of rice, dried beans, and oil to 1,000 people in the Twantey area. In addition malaria and dengue fever are prevalent, even endemic, in this area, so MSF is also planning a mosquito net distribution in the coming days.

Photo : AP Images | An aerial view of devastation caused by the cyclone Nargis on Saturday, is seen at an unknown location in Myanmar, Tuesday 6 May 2008. Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta, where nearly 22,000 people perished, remained largely cut off from the rest of the world Tuesday, four days after a cyclone unleashed winds, floods and high tidal waves on the densely populated region.

Both rural areas and urban areas have been hit hard. First indications from MSF teams are that rural people are relying on what remains of their food stocks and are collecting  bamboo to rebuild their houses. In towns, however, people are becoming increasingly reliant on food assistance, as food shortages exist and the price of rice has now tripled. In the Twantey and Daala areas, people are gathered in and around numerous monasteries and schools, without food or clean water. These numerous and spontaneous multiple gathering sites, over 50 alone in the Twantey zone, means bringing the appropriate assistance will be challenging. “We are continuing to bring relief assistance to the affected populations and will extend our assessments. However it is clear today that with the limited means we have, both in terms of human resources and material, we are not able to adequately respond to the needs of the population,” explains Souheil Reiche, head of MSF operations in Yangon. “Following the government’s appeal for international assistance, it is essential that emergency visas are issued and that relief shipments are allowed to arrive. MSF teams have been on standby for 48 hours waiting to come to help us in the Delta.“ Twenty international staff, all experts in emergency interventions, are ready to join the MSF teams in Myanmar. A cargo plane containing close to 40 tonnes of first aid materials, plastic sheeting, therapeutic food and sanitary materials, is ready to leave Europe for Myanmar this evening.  MSF is working in Myanmar since 1992. Currently, 38 international and 1,200 Burmese are working in projects in seven areas.

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