Cyclone Nargis response enters a new phase in relief and early recovery

Fourth Press Release of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG)

Yangon, Myanmar, 30 July 2008 – The Government of Myanmar organised a field trip involving more than 148 representatives of foreign missions, UN agencies, international non-governmental organisations, relief organisations and the media to the cyclone Nargis-affected areas in the Ayeyarwady Delta using six Myanmar Air Force helicopters on 29 July 2009.

‘This is to reassure that access to the disaster-affected areas continues to be unimpeded and is expanding. This is also to give first-hand information to encourage the international community to work with us to intensify the emergency relief and early recovery for the affected communities,’ explained U Kyaw Thu, Myanmar’s Deputy Foreign Minister and TCG Chairman. He also expects the field trip will bring forward and provide complementary support to the government’s 50-billion-kyat recovery programme. Other TCG members also joined the field visit.

The field trip follows the release of the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) Report on the sidelines of the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore on 21 July and concurrently in Yangon. US$303 million is urgently needed to intensify the relief and early recovery efforts as presented in the 10th July Revised Appeal by the UN, while recovery needs are estimated at US$1 billion over the next three years as assessed in the PONJA Report.

On the ground, the TCG reported that all of the disaster-affected communities have received relief assistance at least once. Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator and also a member of the TCG said, ‘Now, we have double challenges, one, sustaining the relief and two, advancing the support for early recovery in terms of livelihood and subsequently local level recovery on the ground. There is progress in the ongoing farming recovery activities. However there is still a lot to do and we are concerned that many farmers may be unable to catch up with the fast-ending monsoon paddy crop planting season, with their subsequent future food security concern’.

The TCG has facilitated more than 2,000 visas for humanitarian workers involved in Nargis-related tasks. Humanitarian clusters continue to deliver aid together with the line ministries and local governments.

Along that line, the TCG recently launched a Community-Based Early Recovery Pilot Project at Seik Gyi in Kungyangon Township. This TCG special project will focus on early recovery efforts, such as community infrastructure repairs including monasteries and cleaning of community dug wells; and livelihood stimulation support such as planting of betel leaves, building fishing boats and providing fishing nets for the affected communities.

During the first TCG’s visit to the village on Saturday, 26 July 2008, H.E. Bansarn Bunnag, Thailand’s Ambassador to Myanmar and senior ASEAN member of the TCG explained, ‘This project will serve as the model for an integrated relief and early recovery that we could replicate quickly in other places in the affected areas’.

* Note: The TCG is an ASEAN-led mechanism to facilitate trust, confidence and cooperation between Myanmar and the international community in the urgent post-Cyclone Nargis humanitarian relief and recovery work. The TCG started its work on 31 May 2008 and has been meeting at least once a week in a spirit of mutual understanding, trust and cooperation. It has been working closely with the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee chaired by His Excellency Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Union of Myanmar.

The TCG comprises three members from the Myanmar Government: (Deputy Foreign Minister H.E. U Kyaw Thu who is the Chairman; Acting Director-General, Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement U Aung Tun Khaing; and, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation U Than Aye); three members from ASEAN (Thailand’s Ambassador to Myanmar H.E. Bansarn Bunnag; Dr Puji Pujiono, a senior UNDP officer seconded to the ASEAN Secretariat; and, Dr. Anish Kumar Roy, Director of Bureau for Resources Development of the ASEAN Secretariat alternating with Ms. Adelina Kamal of the ASEAN Secretariat); and three from the UN (UN Humanitarian Coordinator Mr Daniel Baker; UN Resident Coordinator Mr Bishow Parajuli; and, a rotating UN agency representative).

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Adelina Kamal
Head, Coordinating Office for the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force
Phone No.: +951 544500 ext 417
E-mail: akamal.aseanhtf@gmail.com

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