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Brussels, 30 April 2009

Myanmar/Burma: Rare TV footage illustrates Commission humanitarian action one year on from Cyclone Nargis

A year ago, on 2-3 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck south-western Myanmar bringing widespread destruction to the Irrawaddy delta region. This was the world's second worst natural disaster in almost four decades (after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami). An estimated 140,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands more lost their homes and livelihoods. The Commission responded quickly, with fast-track finance for vital relief in the stricken areas. Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, went to Myanmar/Burma in mid-May, engaging in face-to-face negotiations with the authorities to open up the humanitarian gateway. This was followed up with further Commission support for ongoing humanitarian needs. The Commission has so far provided humanitarian funding of €39 million in response to the cyclone.

Commissioner Louis Michel said: "No country could have coped on its own with the level of devastation Cyclone Nargis brought to Myanmar/Burma. The gradual opening-up of the humanitarian space allowed the international community to help more than a million Burmese to recover from this tragedy – the families, the mothers and children who were so badly affected by the cyclone and its aftermath." He added: "The humanitarian aid we have provided so far shows that Europe cares about helping the most vulnerable. This aid has been and is still crucial in helping people get back on their feet. We recognize that more may need to be done: the rebuilding of communities will take a long time."

Immediately after the disaster, the European Commission supported the basic needs of Nargis victims. This included shelter, clean drinking water, food and healthcare. The focus then shifted to sustainable early recovery and the restoration of basic livelihoods, for example by providing traditional house building materials and low-cost water treatments as well as supplying seeds and tools. Commission-funded relief projects in Myanmar/Burma also include disaster preparedness, like training in cyclone-resistant building techniques.

All funds are channelled through the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), under the responsibility of Commissioner Michel. The Commission-funded projects are implemented by non-governmental relief organisations, specialised UN agencies and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement. ECHO has a support office in Yangon. Its experts closely follow developments in the humanitarian situation and monitor the use of the Commission's relief funds.

Note for Broadcasters:

Recent, rare, copyright-free TV footage from inside Myanmar/Burma showing ECHO funded humanitarian relief operations is available via EbS (Europe by Satellite) and on the following APTN news feeds.

On APTN (all times GMT):

Thursday 30th April: 19.15 + 22.00 GMT

Friday 1st May: 01.10 + 07.00 + 12.15 GMT

On EbS:

Friday 1st May: 0700 GMT

Check the schedule on:

For further general information:

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