The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is
appealing for $72.5 million to support a three-year
emergency and recovery program for victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma.
The Red Cross says hundreds of thousands of poor people who lived on
the edge before the cyclone struck are weaker and more vulnerable.
Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Red Cross headquarters in Geneva.
The cyclone, which struck Burma on May 2, was the worst to hit the
country in 40 years. An estimated 130,000 people were killed or
reported missing. Nearly 2.5 million people, most in the
Irawaddy Delta, are affected by the storm and in need of assistance.
International Red Cross says progress has been made in reaching people
in need with critical emergency assistance. But, many challenges
Red Cross Spokesman, Zach Abraham tells VOA one of the
challenges is to refocus media attention on this catastrophic event.
He says the message that hundreds of thousands of people remain in
desperate need of help appears to have been lost.
"If this story
drops off the radar and people just forget about Myanmar, then the
situation can be dramatically worse," he said. "But, right now, the
outlook is good because the aid work is getting done, help is being
provided. But, again more work needs to be done."
Red Cross has a network of thousands of volunteers who are often able
to go to areas that are inaccessible to other aid agencies. Since
Cyclone Nargis struck, the Red Cross has provided short-term emergency
relief to more than 500,000 people in severely affected areas. It has
delivered 2,500 tons of relief goods by air and by sea.
says it will take people a very long time to get their lives back to
normal considering the magnitude of the devastation caused by Cyclone
Nargis. He says the Red Cross multi-million dollar appeal will go a
long way toward meeting that goal.
"This money will be used to
continue to provide the emergency response to assist 100,000 households
for the next 36 months," said Abraham. "We will be looking at shelter,
water, hygiene promotion, sanitation, psychological support and
long-term disaster risk reduction training."
Abraham says Red
Cross volunteers are intensifying community education for the
prevention and control of disease. Another priority is strengthening
livelihoods. He says the Red Cross will provide strong support to
vulnerable communities to help them rebuild sustainable agriculture,
fishing and cottage industries.