MCC launches Myanmar cyclone appeal
Mennonite Central Committee committing $100,000 to relief and recovery.by Tim Shenk
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is appealing for financial contributions to support relief and recovery efforts in Myanmar, also known as Burma, following a catastrophic cyclone in the southeast Asian nation.
A cyclone survivor sits in the ruins of a house in Myanmar. The cyclone claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused widespread destruction. Photo by Eva Pineda Hansen, DCA/ACT International.
Cyclone Nargis made landfall on May 2 and devastated southern Myanmar’s delta region. According to news reports, the cyclone drove a wall of water over coastal communities before many residents could escape. The U.S. government estimates that the death toll could reach 100,000.
MCC is committing an initial $100,000 to cyclone relief and recovery efforts. While MCC does not currently have workers or programs in Myanmar, MCC will support the work of partner organizations that are already active in the country. One such partner is Church World Service (CWS).
MCC is providing $20,000 to CWS to distribute water purification tablets, water containers and other supplies to provide clean drinking water to people affected by the cyclone.
According to news reports, the cyclone flooded wells and other water sources, putting survivors at risk of contracting waterborne diseases.
Tom Wenger, MCC’s associate director for Asia, said CWS already has staff members and supplies in the country.
MCC’s support will help CWS provide drinking water to about 3,000 to 4,000 people who have been affected by the cyclone.
News reports have also highlighted the difficulty that some aid organizations are facing in obtaining governmental permission to enter Myanmar and provide supplies.
According to Wenger, Myanmar is a predominantly agricultural nation that is less connected to the West, politically and economically, than many other parts of Asia. Buddhism is the predominant religion, but there are active Christian and Muslim minorities.
Wenger said the cyclone may provide the opportunity for MCC to be more involved in Myanmar in the future.
“This may be the moment when Burma will open up,” he said.—Tim Shenk of Mennonite Central Committee
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