Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Burma refugee camps resisted

Engineers helping the relief effort in cyclone-stricken Burma have resisted government efforts to corral people into vast refugee camps, one returning volunteer claimed this week.

"We tried to resist the whole notion of refugee camps because we could see that outside of these camps, there was very little aid being distributed and it was clear that people wanted to return to their villages and start rebuilding," said Hampshire County Council highways engineer and RedR member Paul Jawor. "We tried to facilitate that by using our boats to reach the remote areas."

A volunteer with the engineering disaster relief charity for 10 years, Jawor took a month’s unpaid leave to go out to Burma, where he worked on water and sanitation for medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Cyclone Nargis hit Burma on 3 May with winds reaching up to 190km/h and devastating an area the size of Wales (NCE 15 May). Up to 150,000 people are thought to have lost their lives, with a further 2.4M people left homeless.

On arrival in the disaster area, Jawor and the rest of the MSF team filled rented barges with rice, oil, beans, water and first aid supplies before sending them out to the worst affected areas.

The first task facing the team was cleaning out contaminated wells, pumping out saltwater to allow the wells to act as reservoirs for drinking water. Jawor estimated that he and his team cleaned 400 wells.

Jawor added that Burma was gradually returning to normal.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.