International Aid Pledges Continue in Wake of Flood Crisis

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 6 August 2015

RANGOON — Aid pledges for victims of Burma’s flooding emergency continued to pour in from overseas on Thursday, as water levels receded in the north of the country and downstream communities in the Irrawaddy Delta prepared for the worst.

The British government announced on Thursday that it would provide relief supplies and assist with recovery efforts. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has provided nearly 50,000 people with high-energy food supplies and another 20,000 people with hygiene kits and supplies to treat unclean water.

DFID said that US$780,000 in contingency funding would be made available to support further relief activities and to help existing programs adapt to meet the needs of flood-ravaged communities with the provision of emergency healthcare, shelter and repairs to damaged water supplies and sewerage systems.

“Our disaster planning meant that food and other emergency supplies were able to reach people very quickly,” said Baroness Verma, the UK Undersecretary of State for DFID, in a Thursday statement. “This latest funding will provide further assistance across the country and help those affected by the floods start to recover and rebuild their lives.”

Following a reported commitment for humanitarian aid by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Rangoon announced the provision of $600,000 through the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance for immediate relief efforts.

After a request from the Burmese government, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced late on Wednesday that 100 tons of rice, 10,000 packets of noodles and 10 tons of medicine would be flown to Mandalay for distribution to flood victims.

The European Commission announced on Thursday it would provide $1.1 million for immediate humanitarian assistance, while the Singapore Red Cross pledged $100,000 in relief aid and emergency items to Burma.

On Wednesday, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it had delivered aid to 82,000 people in the most flood-affected parts of northern and western Myanmar, and was working to eventually supply 200,000 people with emergency rations.

“With so many areas cut off, we are still trying to get a clear picture of how these floods have affected people in Myanmar,” said WFP Country Director Dom Scalpelli in the statement. “Food security will be seriously affected. Thousands have lost homes, livelihoods, crops and existing food and seed stocks. We are acting quickly to provide emergency relief and prevent this disaster from exacerbating existing food insecurity and malnutrition.”

The government and local airlines are providing free transport of WFP supplies to areas inaccessible by road. The agency estimates that $3 million per month will be needed to meet the needs of flood-affected communities.

On Wednesday night, the death toll from the floods stood at 74 people, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, with a further 330,000 people estimated to have been displaced or otherwise impacted by the disaster.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that over 1 million acres of farmland had been inundated and predicted long-lasting disruptions to agricultural production across Burma.

Several other international commitments to flood relief were announced on Wednesday.