MYANMAR: ERD responds to Cyclone Nargis in Burma

May 5, 2008

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is providing emergency assistance to communities in Burma affected by Cyclone Nargis. The storm, packing winds up to 120 miles per hour, swept through the country on Saturday, May 3, leaving at least 4,000 dead and 3,000 unaccounted. Officials fear that the death toll will top 10,000. The low-lying Irrawaddy Delta region suffered the most severe damage.

The situation in Burma is dire. At best, the infrastructure in Burma is marginal and the storm has placed an unbearable strain on already limited services. Power outages and scattered debris across the country continue to hamper recovery efforts. Reports indicate that tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without shelter. The full extent of the damage throughout the country remains unclear due to poor communications and roads made impassable by the storm. In Rangoon, the capital, machete-wielding monks have taken to the streets to assist with clearing the wreckage.

Working with its partner, the Church of the Province of Myanmar, ERD is sending funds to secure shelter, food water and other relief needs for people displaced by the Cyclone. As part of a long-term strategy, ERD has been working for the past two years with five dioceses on economic development including agriculture, livestock, and micro-loans, clean water and education programs.

"Episcopal Relief and Development's response to the cyclone will involve a long-term recovery and rehabilitation strategy for affected areas in which the church has a presence," says Kirsten Laursen Muth, senior program director for Asia and New Initiatives. "Our prayers are with the people of Burma at this very difficult time."

To help people affected by the cyclone in Burma, make a donation to ERD's "Emergency Relief Fund" online here, or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development "Emergency Relief Fund" P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.