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5 Weeks After Nargis, UN Appeal Still Under-Funded

Five weeks after cyclone strikes Myanmar, UN appeal remains under-funded

11 June 2008 - United Nations aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have received just 40 per cent of the funding needed to meet their flash appeal launched after Cyclone Nargis battered Myanmar, more than five weeks after the catastrophe struck the Asian nation.

As of Monday this week, there have been firm contributions of $82 million - far short of the total $201 million sought - and there have been another $51 million of uncommitted pledges.

Amanda Pitt, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told journalists today in Bangkok that humanitarian agencies are concerned that there could be shortages of food relief, shelter and other supplies in the coming weeks unless more money is provided.

"We need some half a million tarpaulins to help with shelter, and funding is urgently needed to sustain the pipeline for food assistance," she said.

"Of course the overall concern is to continue to try to get systematic assistance to those most in need, and particularly to those most vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and exposure."

More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result of Cyclone Nargis and the subsequent tidal wave, which struck Myanmar on 2-3 May, causing the greatest damage to Ayeyarwady Delta area and Yangon, the country's most populous city. As many as 2.4 million people were affected and need humanitarian assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has now dispatched 11,000 tons of food assistance to affected areas, but with food prices rising due to the scarcity of many commodities, the agency is distributing cash in lieu of food in some areas.

In a joint operation by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the national health ministry, three mobile health teams will conduct a one-week mission to trace tuberculosis patients whose treatment has been disrupted.

Meanwhile, a joint relief and early recovery assessment team, involving 250 staff from UN agencies, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and 18 Government ministries, will spend 10 days travelling the affected region to determine both immediate needs and longer-term issues.

Ms. Pitt said the preliminary findings of the assessment are expected to be released by 25 June.

ENDS

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