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Red Cross Issues Multi-Million Dollar Appeal For Cyclone Nargis Victims


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.

The International Red Cross says progress has been made in reaching people in need with critical emergency assistance. But, many challenges remain.

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."

The Burmese 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.

Abraham 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.


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