By SAW YAN NAING
Nearly one year after Cyclone Nargis, huge shortages of supplies, including drinking water, remain in the affected regions, according to relief agencies.
More than 240,000 people in isolated areas around Laputta and Bogalay townships in the Irrawaddy delta still do not have access to clean water, said Andrew Kirkwood, director of Save the Children Fund in Burma.
Also, many orphans and traumatized children are still being sheltered in monasteries and in temporary camps run by relief organizations, said Kirkwood.
He said it will take many years for the cyclone survivors to recover their livelihoods, especially in the southwestern corner of the delta.
On Wednesday, a meeting was held in Bangkok, attended by British Ambassador to Burma Mark Canning, the World Food Program’s country director for Burma Chris Kaye, and country director and medical coordinator for Holland-based MSF Frank Smithius.
Panel discussions centered on the social, political and economic impact of Cyclone Nargis on Burma. The discussions also included humanitarian assistance, raising questions of whether the international community’s aid to cyclone survivors was adequate.
Meanwhile, European countries said that they are ready to continue aid programs in Burma.
Koos Richelle, the director general of the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office, told reporters on Tuesday in Manila that the European Commission is ready to support additional assistance to Burma.
However, he said that the hermitic Southeast Asian country must open up to dialogue with donors on much-needed development assistance.
Richelle said that there has been little progress in providing aid to Burma as the military regime refused to discuss development programs.
“Myanmar [Burma] is one of the countries that wants to seclude itself from the outside world,” he said at a press briefing at the end of a two-day Asia-Europe Meeting in Manila.
Cyclone Nargis slammed Burma’s Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon Division on May 2-3, 2008, leaving about 140,000 people dead or missing, and some 2.4 million seriously affected.