SINGAPORE - Survivors of Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis face a "second emergency" unless relief efforts receive $1 billion in international aid over the next three years, according to the first full disaster assessment released yesterday.
The joint report by the United Nations, the Myanmar government, and Southeast Asia's main bloc provides for the first time a comprehensive breakdown of survivors' needs in the aftermath of the May 2-3 disaster - details foreign donors have demanded as a condition for aid.
Damage from the cyclone that devastated the Irrawaddy Delta and parts of Yangon reaches $4 billion, according to the report. Infrastructure and asset losses amounted to about $1.7 billion and loss of income was estimated at $2.3 billion.
It paints a dismal picture of the impact of the storm, which killed at least 84,537. An additional 53,836 are missing and presumed dead.
A wall of water destroyed 450,000 homes and damaged 350,000, according to the report. About 75 percent of health facilities were damaged, as were 4,000 or more schools.
In mid-June, 55 percent of survivors had rations enough for no more than one day.
"It was a tragedy of immense proportions," Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said in a news conference.
Although filled with grim statistics, the report makes no mention of the junta's slow disaster response.
During the first week after the storm, a world audience was horrified by pictures of bodies floating in waters while soldiers stood idly. The junta stalled in accepting international aid and blocked relief workers from going to the hardest-hit areas.
Many in the international community lashed out at the Myanmar government, while also trying to cajole leaders into accepting aid.
John Holmes, U.N. humanitarian chief, noted that while Myanmar eventually cooperated in humanitarian operations, it was not clear how far cooperation would extend beyond the storm response.
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, who led the news conference yesterday, refused to allow an Associated Press reporter to ask Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win whether the junta felt that many lives could have been saved.
"Political questions" were relevant, Yeo said, but the news conference was only about the assessment report.
Members of ASEAN, the region's main bloc, usually stick to a policy of not interfering in one another's domestic affairs. But ASEAN foreign ministers wrapped up their annual meeting yesterday with their strongest-ever public criticism of Myanmar.
The joint statement expressed "deep disappointment" that the junta had yet to free pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. In May, Suu Kyi's detention was extended by a year, the sixth straight year that she has remained under house arrest in her dilapidated villa.
Myanmar is one of the world's 20 poorest countries with an annual per capita income of $200, and the country's gross domestic product for 2008 is expected to fall 2.7 percent in the wake of the storm.