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Save the Children launches $12 million appeal

Save the Children has launched a global emergency appeal for NZ$12 million to help the thousands of children and their families left homeless in the devastating wake of Cyclone Nargis.

John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand, says: "There are 500 local Save the Children personnel on the ground in Myanmar, from 35 offices across the country. We have already managed to deliver aid to around 50,000 people since the cyclone struck at the weekend, but more money is urgently needed to upscale relief efforts."

Save the Children has been operating in Myanmar for 13 years. It has been able to respond immediately to this disaster using funds already set aside that allow it to begin distributing aid without delay.

The agency has already delivered two metric tonnes of food into worst hit areas today (May 8).

"However, we still desperately need to deliver more plastic sheeting (for shelter), water purification tablets, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits and food."

Emergency assessment teams say the situation is deteriorating fast. State media is confirming 22,000 dead and 958,000 homeless. However Save the Children aid workers estimate the figures to be much higher. Latest figures to hand state the death toll could be as high as 200,000.

"The storm surge in many parts of the delta was reportedly as high as 25 feet in places and, as the delta is a very flat area, it is thought that many, many people have drowned.

"We believe that around 40 percent of those dead and missing are children. Many more will be separated, orphaned and unaccompanied – leaving them at greater risk of exploitation, abuse and psychological distress.

"Some areas are still completely under saltwater, leaving thousands with no food or drinking water. Unless assistance gets into those areas very soon, the death toll will rise much higher.

"Much of the country faces an impending water crisis and many are being forced to use flood water and water from lakes. With very little sanitation it is only a matter of time before significant health problems such as diarrhoea and cholera appear."

Food and transport costs have spiralled, electricity and landline communications are poor and the impending rainy season will bring additional problems.

Damaged infrastructure and communications continue to pose major logistical problems for relief operations, and access to many areas remains severely restricted. Parts of the worst hit areas are only accessible by boat.

"Save the Children is concentrating its efforts in the five worst-hit regions, which include Rangoon Division, Pegu Division, Mon State, Karen State and the Irrawaddy Division."

Donations can be made in several ways:
• Call Save the Children New Zealand's donation line: 0800 167 168
• Visit any one of Save the Children's shops across the country (our website: www.savethechildren.org.nz lists the one closest to you)
• Send a cheque, made out to Save the Children, to Freepost PO Box 6584, Marion Square, Wellington. Mark your envelope Myanmar and don't forget to add your name and address so we can send you a receipt.

ENDS

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