Education International is deeply concerned by the current situation in Burma caused by the cyclone Nargis and consequent flooding. EI deplores the reluctance of the Burmese authorities to facilitate the delivery of aid so urgently needed by the people of the regions most severely hit.
The junta has already come under criticism for failing to inform people of the severity of the storm as it approached the country.
The inhabitants of the Irrawaddy delta were hit by winds of more than 190 kms an hour, torrential rain and waves of three metres high. The deathtoll is estimated by UN agencies at 100,000 and tens of thousands are still missing. About 1 million people have been left homeless of which about 60 % are women and children. Many schools and health centres have been destroyed or severely damaged and electricity has been cut. Schools and other public buildings that withstood the cyclone have been transformed into shelters.
Since teachers are not allowed to unionise in this country by the ruling military Junta EI has no affiliate in the country. It cannot provide assistance directly to teachers and schools at present. It is engaged in urgent consultations with its regional office and recognized relief agencies to assess whether EI can provide direct assistance to teachers, students and schools affected by the disaster in the future.
In the meantime, EI encourages affiliates to make contributions to main relief agencies which manage to get access to the country.