Burma’s junta to build orphanages for survivors

BURMA’S military junta will set up orphanages for the many hundreds of children whose parents died in the recent cyclone, state media reported yesterday.

Orphanages will be opened in Pyapon district and Labutta, Irrawaddy River delta towns, which were among those hit hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis.

Sources did not say how many orphans the government estimated had survived the May 3 disaster, or how many orphanages would be built.

UNICEF’s representative in Burma, Ramesh Shrestha, said the agency believes the number of children left without guardians is over 600 and could rise.

“We have no idea as to how many there are, but from the bits and pieces that we have, there are more than 600 or 700 unaccompanied minors so far,” Shrestha said. He said they included infants and children under two years old.

Burma does not permit foreign adoptions.

Most of the orphans identified were being cared for by volunteers and adults at shelters, he said.

The official death toll from the May 2-3 cyclone stands at about 78,000, with 56,000 more missing.

Conditions in the low-lying Irrawaddy delta remain precarious, with survivors facing disease, malnutrition and exposure.

UNICEF has estimated that children may account for more than a third of those killed in the cyclone.


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