Church, aid agencies stress need for providing shelters as rainy season approaches
A girl cooks under a makeshift tent used as shelter at Basara refugee camp in Sittwe on May 16. Cyclone Mocha has impacted 7.9 million people, rending many of them homeless. (Photo: AFP)
Nearly two months after Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar, thousands are still waiting for shelters in western Rakhine state, Church officials and aid workers say.
The Church workers are helping to repair damaged homes and dig wells under a rehabilitation program with the help of Caritas International for villages in Kyauktaw township, says Father Nereus Tun Min, director of Catholic Karuan Pyay.
The villages were devastated by the May 14 cyclone.
“Local churches are trying to respond by providing cash assistance and rehabilitation programs in some villages. People are still in need of proper shelters as the cyclone damaged thousands of houses,” Tun Min told UCA News.
Of the 7.9 million people affected by the cyclone, some 1.6 million are in need of urgent aid across five states, namely Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing, Magway and Kachin, according to the United Nations (UN).
The UN has appealed for US$333 million to assist the 1.6 million people, many of whom have lost their homes.
A Church social worker from Sittwe said people living on the outskirts of the town are in urgent need of proper shelter.
“Affected communities can now access water and electricity but most of them are desperately in need of shelters as the rainy season starts,” Albert, who uses just one name, told UCA News.
Myanmar’s military regime on June 8 suspended transportation used by international agencies and local humanitarian groups to access and aid victims of the cyclone.
“Access to humanitarian response to the affected areas remains challenging, as the approval of travel authorization for the movement of staff and supplies across Rakhine is still being determined,” the UN’s children agency UNICEF said in a July 3 report.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, slammed the junta for compounding the already dire situation on the ground by imposing restrictions on aid.
The restrictions had brought “further suffering and misery to wide swathes of the population in the west and northwest of the country,” Shamdasani said in a July 1 statement.
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