UN chief flies to Myanmar to facilitate aid

May 22nd, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by admin  

Yangon, May 22 (ANI): The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday flew to Myanmar to press upon the ruling military junta to allow full-blown international aid effort for the 2.4 million victims of Cyclone Nargis.

So far relief workers have been able to reach only a quarter of the victims after the May 2 storm and sea surge that left nearly 134,000 dead or missing, Ban said.

“We must do our utmost for the people of Myanmar” said Ban when he arrived in the Thai capital, Bangkok, on Wednesday before travelling to Myanmar.

“Aid in Myanmar should not be politicised. Our focus now is on saving lives,” he added.

The Myanmar government wants more than 11 billion dollars in aid, but international donors need access to verify the needs, said Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General.

The United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, are to convene a donors’ pledging conference in Yangon on Sunday.

“Accessibility is important to guarantee confidence and verify the damage and needs, otherwise confidence during pledging will be affected, said Surin on a visit to Yangon.

The UN chief will meet Than Shwe, junta leader in Naypyidaw, a new capital 250 miles (390 km) north of Yangon, on Friday.

Than Shwe had earlier declined to take Ban’s phone calls in the relief effort. Ban was due to meet Myanmar ministers involved in the relief effort before flying to the delta later on Thursday.

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