UK-based international development agency Christian Aid has launched an appeal to help those left without shelter, food or water in Burma after Cyclone Nargis hit the country four days ago.
Christian Aid has immediately allocated £50,000 for local partners to carry out relief work and will send more funds as soon as information comes through on what is needed. Communication with Burma has been very difficult because the storm bought down telephone and electricity lines.
As many as a million people may be affected. Hundreds of thousands are reported to be in need of shelter and water. Christian Aid partners in Burma have said they urgently need to provide clean water, shelter, food and water purification tablets.
The severe cyclone tore through the heavily populated Irrawaddy Delta on the evening of 2 May reaching Rangoon, Burma's largest city, on May 3.
Tens of thousands of homes have been damaged, some villages wiped out and many rural areas are still reportedly submerged under saltwater. The Irrawaddy delta region is Burma’s rice bowl and the impact on food supplies will be severe.
‘The logistics of this disaster are very challenging. Some of the worst hit areas are very poor and remote,’ said Christian Aid’s Burma expert Ray Hasan.
‘We hope that the Burmese government gives aid agencies full access to the affected areas so we can help those in need.’
The storm was brewing in the Bay of Bengal for several days but communities in the affected areas would have been ill prepared due to a lack of early warning systems.
One of the themes of this year’s Christian Aid Week, which runs from May 11 to 17, is teaching communities how to be better prepared when disasters such as cyclones hit.