Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Popular UN-backed Internet word game feeds Myanmar’s cyclone victims

Survivors of the cyclone which ravaged Myanmar last month will soon be receiving rice generated by the popular United Nations-backed Internet game that allows players to expand their word skills while helping to feed the world’s hungry., in which players donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) every time they answer a question correctly, has already generated over 36 billion grains of rice – enough for more than 3.7 million meals.

Two consignments of rice for Myanmar have been paid for by YUM! and Unilever, the latest companies to help fund the FreeRice initiative.

WFP will be distributing the rice to many of the 755,000 people it is aiming to feed as part of relief efforts across Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which struck the South-East Asian nation on 2-3 May.

The disaster caused the greatest damage to the Ayeyarwady Delta area and the country’s most populous city, Yangon. More than 134,000 people are dead or missing as a result, and as many as 2.4 million people were affected and need humanitarian assistance.

In recent weeks WFP has dispatched at least 11,000 tons of food assistance in the country and now has 10 chartered helicopters flying in the Delta, enabling the delivery of vital relief supplies to those who need it most.

In a related development, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Myanmar’s health system is “back on its feet” following last month’s tragedy thanks to an all-out response by the Government, the UN and the international community.

The agency noted that within the first 10 days of the disaster, medical supplies had been provided to all major hospitals. Since then, teams have fanned out beyond the major centres and were now examining patients in some of the remote areas.

At the same time, WHO said that a major health concern continues to be the quality and availability of water. The agency is disinfecting some 6 million litres of water daily, enough for approximately 2 million people.

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