International Aid Filters in for Flood-Ravaged Burma

By The Irrawaddy 5 August 2015

Pledges of international aid have ramped up as Burma’s government struggles to respond to widespread flooding that authorities say has affected more than 250,000 people nationwide.

On Tuesday, Burma’s Information Minister Ye Htut said the country was appealing for international assistance to meet the crisis which has so far claimed the lives of 69 people, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

A press release in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Tuesday called on humanitarian agencies, the UN and donor countries to contact foreign ministry officials to facilitate the supply of humanitarian assistance.

Several countries have thus far pledged emergency relief assistance.

Australia announced on Wednesday it would contribute AUD$2 million towards relief efforts in response to a request from Burma’s government.

“We are working with the Myanmar Government and humanitarian partners to determine how funding will be allocated,” the country’s foreign minister Julie Bishop said in a statement. “A specialist is now assisting with the relief effort and coordinating damage assessments.”

Japan pledged emergency relief supplies worth 18 million yen (approximately US$145,000), according to a statement released through its embassy in Rangoon.

Regional and international leaders, including Burma’s foreign minister Wunna Maung Lwin, have gathered in Kuala Lumpur this week for a series of ASEAN and related meetings.

Speaking in the Malaysian capital, both the US and Norwegian foreign ministers reportedly pledged financial assistance to aid Burma’s emergency response to the floods.

“We express our hopes that the impact of this can obviously be dealt with minimal further loss of life and disruption,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told a meeting of ASEAN leaders on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

According to the state-run English language newspaper China Daily, a 10-member Chinese search and rescue team arrived in Rangoon on Tuesday to assist with relief efforts and will soon be deployed in Arakan State.

China has also been providing aid, coordinated through its embassy in Rangoon, to flood-affected people in Sittwe, Arakan State and in Kale, Sagaing Division, the newspaper reported.

Neighboring Thailand, which in recent months has grappled with its worst drought in decades, pledged a donation to Burma of 5 million baht (US$142,000) on Monday.