Myanmar cyclone – Frequently asked questions

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cyclone Nargis which hit Myanmar on Saturday 3 May.

How many people have been affected by the Myanmar cyclone?

According to news reports at 1400 BST 6 May, up to 22,000 have been killed and another 1 million people displaced in five Myanmar regions including Ayewardy, Yangon, Mon State, Bago and Kayin State.  In total 24 million people live in cyclone affected parts of Myanmar.

It must be stressed, however, that reliable information is very difficult to obtain during the early stages of a humanitarian emergency.

Has Oxfam launched an appeal to assist the people affected by the Myanmar cyclone?

Not at this time, as we are unsure of needs and restrictions on our ability to spend funds. Oxfam International has pledged an initial $750,000 from their catastrophe fund to be disbursed to agencies already working on the ground in Myanmar such as the UNICEF and local Myanmar partners – right now that’s the best way we can help save lives and assist people in Myanmar.

Will Oxfam be joining joint public appeals?

If a DEC appeal is launched in the UK Oxfam GB will be the recipient of some DEC funds but depending on the amount raised we will be cautious to make sure we only take what we know we can spend. In the Netherlands the collaborating aid agencies (SHO) launched an appeal today. Oxfam Novib is a member of SHO and will take only the share it can absorb.

How many aid workers does Oxfam have working in Myanmar?

Oxfam International currently does not run operational programs in Myanmar. Therefore our aid effort will be channeled through partner organizations with a mixture of cash funding, technical expertise and equipment where required.

What are some of the challenges the international community faces in responding to this humanitarian emergency?

The aid effort faces huge challenges. Immediate needs are known to be shelter, water, food, food and public health.  Some 24 million people live in the areas affected by the storm. Communications are down in the cyclone-hit areas, roads have been washed away and getting aid to people will be very difficult. The international and the national community needs to be both quick to respond to this crisis and ensure the needs of those affected are met.

How long will the aid effort last?

It’s too early to know. But what’s clear is this is a major humanitarian emergency affecting up to one million of the poorest people in South East Asia.  The relief phase of the operation is likely to take at least six months followed by a lengthy rebuilding phase.

Can I donate goods in kind to Oxfam such as blankets and medical equipment?

Oxfam does not accept goods in kinds.  Transporting in kind donations is prohibitively expensive and time consuming. Where possible Oxfam and partners purchase relief items locally to keep costs low as well as to help stimulate the local economy.