|© UNICEF Myanmar/2008|
|The Sasana Beikman monastery has been serving as a shelter for some 500 cyclone victims from Kyauktan in Myanmar.|
KYAUKTAN, Myanmar, 9 May 2008 – One week ago, Cyclone Nargis blasted the southern coastal area of Myanmar at 190 kph – one of the worst natural disasters the country has experienced. Kyauktan in the Bhamo Township was one of the hardest-hit areas.
Villagers there held on in their houses until the buildings collapsed, while some families clung to plastic containers to keep from drowning. On Saturday, as night approached and the floodwaters rose, hundreds of villagers sought refuge in the Sasana Beikman monastery.
One young resident of Kyauktan, Ma Khine, 13, was among some 500 people who huddled in the monastery along as the cyclone destroyed their homes.
“I was worried that my family members would be separated,” said Ma. “Our faces turned blue from the cold and I thought we were going to die.”
Economic conditions were already strained in the Irrawaddy Delta village where Ma’s simple family home used to stand. Before this, she barely earned $20 a month working in a garment factory. Her tough life has been made worse by the recent disaster.
Food and safe water needed
In the monastery, young children sit in their mothers’ arms with shocked expressions seemingly frozen on their faces. They don’t want to return to their village, but their parents want to start picking up the pieces of their shattered world.
According to a UNICEF team assessing the situation in Kyauktan, food is scarce among the 66 shelters in the area. Many villagers who still have houses standing have been helping out by cooking and donating what they can.
In low-lying Irrawaddy, which bore the brunt of the storm, there are grave concerns that the children who survived Cyclone Nargis now have no safe drinking water and are at risk for diarrhoeal and water-bourne diseases.
“Please help us to rebuild our village,” said one mother. “We are facing difficulty for our daily survival as our houses are now lying flat in the water, some crushed by trees. We do not even have cooking utensils or clothes to wear.”
Crisis in Myanmar
A month after deadly cyclone, classes resume
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits
UN Secretary-General appeals for further cyclone aid
UNICEF focuses on restoring normalcy for young survivors
UNICEF safe-water supplies arrive in Myanmar