Crisis in Myanmar relief camps: Mass exodus sets stage for public health emergency
YANGON, Myanmar, May 11, 2008—The lives of thousands of cyclone survivors are at extreme risk as people scramble out of the shattered Irrawaddy Delta to find food and shelter, according to a recent assessment of 26 shelters across the Myaung Mya region of Myanmar.
Assessment teams from humanitarian organization World Vision found displaced people living in appalling conditions in make-shift shelters and camps where overcrowding and unsanitary conditions are prevalent.
As thousands of villagers leave the hardest-hit areas of the Delta region, they embark on a journey where food and shelter are scarce and water is contaminated by salt, human bodies and animal carcasses.
In Myaung Mya, an area some 30 miles north of the devastated town of Labutta, World Vision’s national staff report that some 30,000 people are seeking food, water and medical attention. Children — many of them orphans — are suffering from fever, diarrhea and respiratory infections.
Samson Jeyakumar, World Vision program manager, said, “In this situation, the most vulnerable people are children under five because they have the highest mortality rates in emergency situations and suffer the effects most quickly.”
World Vision has been supplying clean water to survivors in the Irrawaddy area. The agency also has started chlorinating wells, providing water tanks and disinfecting camps sites with bleaching powder. Meanwhile, in Yangon, more than 78,000 people have received clean water, rice and other emergency aid such as clothing, blankets and tarpaulins. Diesel fuel is being distributed to operate water pumps.
World Vision has also distributed sterile dressings, anti-bacterial medicines, mosquito nets and disinfectants, but additional resources are needed. Much of this equipment is available and could be within the country in hours from World Vision’s global warehouses in Dubai and Frankfurt.
:: More about the Myanmar cyclone response
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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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