More visas, expert staff and supplies still needed to cope with the huge needs of Cyclone Nargis survivors

Normally, in a situation like this, MSF would send in a lot more international staff with experience in emergency response to natural disasters. Our aid effort has been hampered by restrictions on international staff presence in the delta.

MSF activities continue on a large scale in the Delta region. Teams are working in Bogale, Pyenpon, Labutta and Heyngyi. In total over 250 staff are working in the Delta region with a total of 36 medical teams

More than a dozen international staff are now in the Delta region bringing much needed expertise to the existing teams.

Visas for international staff are now being issued but the need for more experienced staff in the Delta remains critical.

MSF has been able to send 190 tons of relief material to the country along with water and sanitation equipment to compliment the stocks already on site due to current ongoing projects. However some of the new equipment needs skilled staff to be able to handle it.

An average of 500 medical consultations are carried out daily.

MSF has reached around 120,000 people, distributing 310 tons of rice, 84,000 cans of fish, 16,500 litres of cooking oil and 13,500 plastic sheets
The main challenges facing people are access to suitable shelter, food and water.

Throughout the country there are 49 international staff and 1,200 national staff working for MSF

Challenges

Thousands of people have not seen any aid workers and still have not received any assistance. MSF teams traveling by boat have reached the most isolated areas, around Bogaley. In these villages, MSF found people who had had run out of food and who had not eaten in three days. We were able to distribute some emergency food rations. However, unfortunately, there are many more villages like this with people in desperate need.

Normally, in a situation like this, MSF would send in a lot more international staff with experience in emergency response to natural disasters. Our aid effort has been hampered by restrictions on international staff presence in the delta.

Immediate needs

The most immediate needs are for food and shelter items. Much more food is needed. Our initial stocks of basic relief materials, such as jerry cans and plastic sheeting, are almost completely depleted. So, MSF is now planning to send in additional cargo planes with vital supplies.

People also urgently need shelter as it rains heavily each day. MSF teams on the ground are seeing many respiratory infections because people are either out in the open or they are gathering in pagodas, monasteries and some schools whenever they can find them.

So far, MSF teams are coming across a few cases of diarrhea each day, but we have not yet seen any outbreaks. The number of injuries our teams are treating has gradually decreased from more than half of all consultations to a much smaller proportion currently.

Visa numbers

After initial delays in obtaining visas, MSF has recently been able to obtain visas in several locations around the world.

Access to the Delta

At the moment, 36 mobile teams mainly comprising national staff are on the ground in the Delta region continuing to provide water and sanitation, medical aid and food and relief items.

MSF welcomes the news that access for international staff to enter the country and gain access to the affected areas will improve in the coming days. Since the cyclone struck, three weeks ago, MSF has been trying to get more international aid workers into the Delta, particularly those with expertise in emergency situations.

The aid assistance that has been brought into Myanmar to date still remains significantly below what is needed for the cyclone survivors. The overall aid effort has been considerably hampered by the lack of international staff on the ground.

Last week MSF was finally granted permission to send a few international staff to the Delta. Over a dozen are now working in Bogale, Pyenpon, Labutta and Heyngyi. However, we still have international staff awaiting permission in Yangon to go to the Delta region. These staff are needed for their expertise, to accelerate the pace of our relief effort and to support the life-saving work being carried out by the national MSF staff.

MSF attended the Donors Conference in Yangon over the weekend, but only as an observer. MSF hopes that the conference will lead to a scale up of aid to the Delta but it is not yet clear when or how this will take place.