Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Emergency Aid Arrives by Boat to Stranded Delta Victims

May 28, 2008

Three convoys of emergency relief supplies reached stranded delta regions thanks to the generosity of those who are donating to Project Enlighten’s: ‘Burma Cyclone Emergency Relief Immediate Action Plan’, www.projectenlighten.org .

Posted now on the blog site you’ll see photos of aid distributed by boat to the delta.

Supplies include items such as plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, food, water, water purification tablets, plus various medical supplies and medicine including ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts) which treats dehydration and guards against cholera. Most days here now see temperatures hover in the mid-thirties, so ORS is vital to those exposed to harsh conditions in the delta. You will see a photo on this site of a baby holding a packet of this.

You can obtain a copy of the Excel spreadsheet detailing all the items sent and their cost by emailing me at mccoy@vianet.ca .

Aid items are purchased here on the border and in Rangoon, where prices are much lower than outside of these countries, resulting in MUCH MORE aid going directly to the victims. Your donations go a long way here.

In the photos you’ll see Burmese volunteers wearing white t-shirts with a Burmese word on the front which translates into ‘Sympathizer’. These eager volunteers were recruited by ABITSU (All Burma Student IT Union), one of the Burmese organizations here on the border that are gathering donations funded through various western and European organizations such as ours.

The UN has estimated that of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm, about 42% had received some kind of emergency assistance. But of the 2 million people living in the 15 worst affected townships, only 23% had been reached. On May 26, the International Red Cross reported that at least 1.5 million people, many of them hungry and ailing remain homeless in the rain-swept delta. The UN also reports that 85% of school buildings were destroyed or severely damaged in the country’s cyclone-ravaged region. It will take decades for this already impoverished region to rebuild and replace all that has been lost.

Foreign aid workers are starting to trickle in, and I mean ‘trickle’! Paul Risley of the UN’s World Food Programme stated “Yesterday was a record, red-letter day with 7 visas applied for and 7 issued. But every step has required agreement with the government, clearance from the government, approved by the government of virtually all our actions.” Much more needs to be done to facilitate the swift processing of visas for foreign aid workers to get into Burma and through the military roadblocks in the delta region.

Sadly, the US and British ships loaded with relief aid and equipment stationed off the coast of the delta region, have still not been granted permission to unload their supplies in Rangoon, or to fly their on-board helicopters into the delta.

Burma’s PM Lt General Thein Sein said only civilian vessels could take part in the aid operation, and that they would have to go through Rangoon.

‘Project Enlighten’s’ funding of emergency supplies going into Burma via boats manned with Burmese volunteers is a working solution that is accepted by the Myanmar regime, and with your continued support we can send much more in!

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