United Nations, Jul 11 (UNI) The United Nations has appealed for a total of 482 million dollars to assist victims of Cyclone Nargis, which devastated large areas of Myanmar in early May, leaving around 140,000 dead or missing and severely affecting an estimated 2.4 million people.
Making the appeal at UN headquarters in New York, Undersecretary -General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said yesterday the funding would support 103 aid projects covering food supplies, agriculture, water and sanitation, health, schooling and shelter.
Mr Holmes explained that the 482 million dollars total included 201 million dollars requested in an earlier appeal, and said the proposed aid effort was based on the information derived from a joint assessment of the impact of the cyclone carried out by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Government of Myanmar and the UN.
He described Cyclone Nargis as the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar, saying that up to 800,000 people were displaced from their homes in the first weeks after the storms. In addition.
Mr Holmes, who is also UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said significant progress had been made over the past six weeks in improving access for international aid workers to affected areas, but stressed that the challenges were still big and the relief operation was by no means over.
He added that the appeal was for continued aid operations that would last through April 2009.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Myanmar, Dan Baker, also echoed Mr Holmes's views on the improved access.
''Nobody has been denied access into the country or to go to the field if they wanted to assist the humanitarian activities, so I was able to assure the Member States that this is the case and this will provide us a really firm basis for this appeal because we can in fact reach the people now,'' Mr Baker said.
The joint assessment of the humanitarian situation in Myanmar found that 42 per cent of all food stocks had been destroyed and only 55 per cent of families had stocks for one day or less.
Some 924,000 people will need food assistance until the November harvest this year, while around 300,000 will need continued relief until April 2009.
More than 70 per cent of the households reported inadequate access to clean water because of the damage to rainwater collection systems and saltwater contamination of ponds.
UNI XC GT RAI0949