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Thousands at risk in Myanmar

Concern Worldwide is warning that thousands of people may still be at risk one week after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar. About 1.5 million people have been affected by the disaster and the true scale of the devastation is still only coming to light as so much of the country remains inaccessible.

 “The longer people have to wait for aid to arrive, the bigger the risk that many more will die, particularly the most vulnerable such as the elderly, young children and those who were already living in extreme poverty,” said Concern’s Overseas Director Paul O’Brien.

“Concern is driven by the humanitarian imperative to save lives and ease the suffering of people affected by a disaster. This is the most fundamental of principles. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of needs alone and professional aid agencies are best placed to identify those priorities and deliver aid most effectively.”

Emergency supplies are beginning to trickle in but it is not enough to meet the pressing and immediate needs of water, food and shelter. There are still difficulties with visas and access within the country. It is important that aid is delivered independently and impartially and that aid agencies act in a neutral, non-political way with respect for the local culture.

“We are currently trying to secure visas for two members of the Concern Emergency Response Team to enter Myanmar and support our European Alliance2015 partners CESVI and Welthungerhilfe. We also have staff from Concern operations in Bangladesh and India on stand-by,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Our Italian and German partners were present in Myanmar prior to the cyclone. They can ensure that aid gets to the people who have been worst affected and they are now finishing assessments and beginning to respond with the necessary materials, food and water to help people get back on their feet. They are also trying to obtain permission from the Government to gain access to areas outside of the former capital Rangoon, which have been affected.”

Concern has launched an emergency appeal this week for the people of Myanmar and all funds raised will be channelled through our partners on the ground to those in need.