Help for Burma

Episcopal Relief and Development reports that it 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, 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 our partner, the Anglican Church of Burma, Episcopal Relief and Development is sending funds to secure shelter, food water and other relief needs for people displaced by the Cyclone. As part of our long term strategy, we have 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,” she added.

For more information and to donate to Episcopal Relief and Development click here.

HT to Caminante.

For information on how church agencies around the world are responding read here.

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m. ET

Newsweek reports the death toll at over 22,000 people.

Buddhist monks and Catholic nuns wielding knives and axes joined Yangon residents Tuesday in clearing roads of ancient, fallen trees that were once the city’s pride. And soldiers were out on the streets in large numbers for the first time since the cyclone hit, helping to clear trees as massive as 15 feet in diameter.

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