IOM Assembles Cyclone Team, Appeals for Funds
IOM has assembled a team of Asian emergency relief specialists and
is appealing to international donors for an initial USD 8 million
to fund the movement of relief goods and the provision of emergency
shelter and medical aid to cyclone survivors.
While accurate data on the impact of the storm remains sketchy,
the United Nations (UN) estimates that as many as 1.5 million
people may have been severely affected across five of Myanmar's 17
States and Divisions.
Official estimates of nearly 23,000 dead and 42,000 displaced
are expected to rise dramatically as the first aid workers access
remote Irrawaddy delta villages submerged by the cyclone's 12 ft
The IOM team, which includes logistics, shelter and health
experts, will strengthen the capacity of 200 IOM staff already in
Myanmar and IOM's regional office in Thailand to respond to the
IOM Regional Representative for Southeast Asia Irena
Vojackova-Sollorano, who is currently in Yangon, but is shuttling
between Myanmar and the Thai capital, warns that unless far more
aid is brought into the country and the affected areas quickly, the
humanitarian situation could deteriorate rapidly.
"A week after a cyclone of this magnitude, a massive effort
combining the pooled resources of the international community to
reach the victims and address their needs should already be
underway. It is not and we need a solution fast," she
"When the IOM emergency team arrives, their experience of
natural disasters elsewhere in Asia will provide our local staff
with essential expertise and leadership," says IOM's acting Chief
of Mission in Yangon Mac Pieczowski. "We needed them and essential
relief items on the ground by yesterday," he adds.
IOM's operations in Myanmar are currently concentrated in Mon
State, where some mainly medical staff work on grass roots projects
to combat malaria, TB and HIV and AIDS among migrant workers and
host communities. The Mon State migrant health programme was
launched in November 2004, following the signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding with the Myanmar Ministry of Health.
IOM also has a small permanent staff in Yangon, working
primarily on combating human trafficking and promoting safer
migration through advocacy and public information.
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