Rampant HR violations, apathy by Burmese Military Junta leaves cyclone victims hapless

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Washington, May 8 (ANI): The survivors of Cyclone Nargis that devastated Burma in 2008, continue to reel under the problems brought by the cyclone.

A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Emergency Assistance Team-Burma, has revealed that the victims of Nargis are yet to receive vital assistance that would enable them to rebuild their lives, and they face lack of access to relief and reconstruction efforts even though its been over a year since the cyclone ripped through the country.

The study "Community-Based Assessment of Human Rights in a Complex Humanitarian Emergency: The Emergency Assistance Teams-Burma and Cyclone Nargis" is published May 7 in the journal Conflict and Health.

"Accounts of survivors and independent relief workers one year after the cyclone make clear that the basic needs remain unmet for many survivors-a situation made worse by Burma's military rulers who continued to hamper the recovery effort and to limit access by independent relief workers," said study co-author Chris Beyrer, MD, professor and director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Bloomberg School.

For the study, a network of community-based organizations, known as the Emergency Assistance Team-Burma, worked on the ground to conduct an assessment of the human rights conditions in Burma immediately following Cyclone Nargis. In response to the cyclone-a storm that killed an estimated 138,000 people and affected 2.4 million people-the team was formed within days after the storm's landfall.

The assessment found that community aid efforts faced government restrictions and harassment, including the threat of arrest of independent relief workers.

Storm survivors reported land confiscation, misappropriation of reconstruction materials and governmental restrictions on communication and information, all of which continued in 2009.

"The team's ability to quickly provide appropriate relief services and conduct these assessments reaffirms the key role of community-based organizations in responding to disasters, particularly in challenging settings such as Burma, where official restrictions on humanitarian assistance are extensive," said Beyrer adding that efforts such as these must be encouraged in the face of such arrant human rights violations. (ANI)

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