Int’l aid experts move into Myanmar cyclone zone

By Xinhua,

Yangon : Aid experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations began moving into Myanmar’s cyclone-hit Irrawaddy Delta for an assessment of the cyclone damage and the needs of local people on Thursday, diplomatic sources said.

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The first batch of members of the joint ASEAN-U.N. “Emergency Rapid Assessment Team” flew by helicopters into two main townships of Labutta and Pyapon.

The 200-strong team will report on its findings in mid-July, ASEAN said.

A tripartite core group involving ASEAN, U.N. and Myanmar has been working for preparation this week to make joint assessment on the impact of Cyclone Nargis that devastated Myanmar in early May.

A series of meetings were held last Monday, participated by Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu, 54 representatives from 18 government ministries, representatives of ASEAN to the tripartite core group, resident representative and coordinator of UNDP and Singapore Ambassador Robert Chau, according to state media.

The Yangon-based tripartite core group was established at an ASEAN-U.N. international pledging conference held in Yangon late last month as a working mechanism for coordination, facilitating and monitoring the flow of international assistance into Myanmar’s cyclone-hit areas.

The international pledging conference, attended by 51 countries and 24 U.N. organizations and international non-governmental organizations, was held to seek more international financial aid commitment for Myanmar’s cyclone aid relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The meeting pledged their determination to help Myanmar to overcome cyclone tragedy and resume the people’s normal lives as quickly as possible. The event was regarded as an important exercise towards building a great trust, confidence and cooperation between Myanmar government and the international community.

Myanmar estimated the damages and losses caused by the storm at 10.67 billion U.S. dollars with 5.5 million people affected.

Cyclone Nargis, which occurred over the Bay of Bengal, hit five divisions and states — Ayeyawaddy, Yangon, Bago, Mon and Kayin on May 2 and 3, of which Ayeyawaddy and Yangon inflicted the heaviest casualties and massive infrastructure damage. The storm has killed77,738 people and left 55,917 others missing and 19,359 injured according to official death toll.