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Fourth airlift brings UNHCR relief goods into Myanmar


Fourth airlift brings UNHCR relief goods into Myanmar

A fourth plane carrying vital UNHCR shelter and household supplies for Myanmar cyclone victims lands in the country's main city, Yangon.
22 May 2008
A young girl holds the blanket she received from UNHCR in Le Baw monastery, Taw Ku village, Myanmar.

YANGON, Myanmar, May 22 (UNHCR) - A fourth plane carrying vital UNHCR shelter and household supplies for cyclone victims landed Thursday in Myanmar's main city, Yangon, after a pause in the UN refugee agency's airlift for a few days while a new round of shipments was being organized.

"We are very glad to be welcoming planes again and to have these badly-needed relief items once again on their way to suffering people in the Irrawaddy Delta and around Yangon," said Marc Rapoport, head of UNHCR's operations in Myanmar.

An Antonov transport plane arrived in Yangon on Thursday morning carrying 18 tonnes of plastic rolls (sheeting for large communal buildings), blankets, kitchen sets and mosquito nets. Further flights were expected by Saturday, transporting cargo earlier shipped to Bangkok from UNHCR's emergency stores in Dubai.

With four relief flights and an earlier truck convoy from nearby Thailand, UNHCR has now moved 134 tonnes of relief goods into Myanmar to benefit as many as 14,425 families - about 70,000 people. The aid includes plastic sheeting, plastic rolls, mosquito nets, blankets and kitchen sets.

Goods from previous air and land shipments have been distributed through non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations.

"Future shipments are expected to concentrate on plastic sheeting only, as this is the most sought-after article at this time," said Christiane Blessing-Win, UNHCR supply officer in Yangon.

On the outskirts of Yangon - which was also hit by the cyclone - and in the delta, some families have been able to erect temporary shelters out of palm leaf thatching. But they desperately need plastic sheeting to keep out the monsoon rains.

UNHCR does not normally respond to natural disasters, but the refugee agency has acted quickly to provide victims of both Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and last week's earthquake in China's Sichuan province with emergency shelter.

As part of the UN's US$187 million joint appeal to address the Cyclone Nargis emergency, UNHCR has asked for US$6 million for emergency shelter for 250,000 people. Donors were very quick to respond to UNHCR's request and the appeal is now fully funded.