Devastated children in Myanmar face special threats after cyclone
Bangkok, Thailand, May 8, 2008—Children who survived the 15-foot sea surge that devastated the delta region of Myanmar now face the dual specters of disease and emotional trauma as their communities try to recover from the impact of Cyclone Nargis.
Water sources have been contaminated — not just by saltwater — but also by the thousands of human bodies or animal carcasses, many of them floating in the water.
“We have a very narrow window of opportunity to ensure people have access to potable drinking water and sanitation. Disease outbreaks spread by dirty water, poor sanitation and mosquitoes are a major concern. Our priority will be to save children and their families from diseases that spread quickly such as diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and others in the wake of disasters such as this,” said child development specialist Samson Jeyakumar.
Helping children to overcome emotional trauma must also be a priority, he said.
“After a disaster, children are likely to feel very insecure, threatened and anxious. They need to feel safe amidst these overwhelming experiences. Tens of thousands of children have seen their homes destroyed, family members die, seen dead bodies, or are now simply trying to survive in a terribly harsh post-disaster environment,” he said.
Mr Jeyakumar has lived and worked in Myanmar, as a programs expert with World Vision.
So far Word Vision has delivered 35 MT of rice, 18,000 liters of drinking water and diesel fuel to allow generators pumps to continue to pump water. Clothing, blankets and tarpaulins have also been distributed to people living in and around Yangon.
The government of Myanmar has requested aid agencies to provide assistance in the form of zinc sheets, tents, tarpaulins and medicine. The agency is coordinating with authorities to explore an airlift of emergency supplies into the country from its global pre-positioning warehouses.
World Vision assessment teams have also been deployed to five areas in the hardest-hit delta Ayerarwaddy Division to determine the most urgent needs, including Bogalay where some 10,000 are thought to have died.
It is estimated that some 1 million people have been made homeless by the cyclone with tens of thousands living in monasteries, schools, in damaged homes or with relatives. The organization has several community development programs in areas hit by the path of the storm.
World Vision’s national office in Myanmar is based in Yangon — the country’s largest city and a state-declared disaster zone. The agency has worked in Myanmar for more than 40 years and currently assists children and families across the country through food assistance, agriculture, health, clean water, education, income generation, anti-trafficking and nutritional assistance programs.
The public can help by calling 1.888.56.CHILD or visiting www.worldvision.org.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.worldvision.org/press.
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World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice..
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