Myanmar cyclone survivors roofless as monsoon looms: UN | world | Hindustan Times
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Myanmar cyclone survivors roofless as monsoon looms: UN

world Updated: May 12, 2009 20:46 IST

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Hundreds of thousands of people in areas of Myanmar devastated by cyclone Nargis a year ago are in urgent need of a proper roof over their heads before the imminent monsoon season, the UN said on Tuesday.

"At the moment half a million people still live in tremendously poor housing conditions, and with the monsoon coming we are facing now a humanitarian crisis again," said UN human settlements specialist Mariko Sato.

"Tarpaulins and thatched (roofs) are dilapidated and destroyed, and that needs to be replaced before the monsoon season," she told journalists.

Some 450,000 homes were destroyed and 350,000 were damaged when Nargis swept through Myanmar's southern river deltas in May 2008.

The UN's humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) said that by next June just 25,000 totally destroyed houses will have been rebuilt.

"There are quite a few being built, but the level of need is huge," said Bishow Parajuli, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar.

Some 315 million dollars in international aid came through last year, broadly meeting targets for health, food and education.

But the amount was just two-thirds of the total requirement, and housing and shelter were largely neglected as donors provided just five percent of the amount earmarked for homes, according to the United Nations.

Parajuli said it was "critical" for donors to come up with more funding before the cyclone.

A UN expert also blamed Myanmar's relative isolation for the problem with rebuilding homes, saying it had sapped the country's construction capacity.

"Years of isolation have taken a heavy toll on the expertise needed," said Thierry Delbreuve of OCHA.

Officials also reiterated concern about the shortage of cyclone shelters in Myanmar.

Government plans to build 18 of them were taking time to get off the ground, while the number would not be sufficient anyway, said Parajuli.