Asean task force to channel foreign aid to Myanmar

May 21st, 2008 - 3:38 pm ICT by admin  

Jakarta, May 21 (Xinhua) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has established a task force to channel international aid to Myanmar and will send some 270 personnel to cyclone-hit areas for relief work, a media report said Wednesday. During a meeting of the grouping’s foreign ministers in Singapore, Myanmar’s ruling military junta has agreed with the establishment of the task force, which will comprise officials from each member country of Asean, with the grouping’s secretary-general, Surin Pitsuwan, as the chairman.

“The task force will coordinate and channel international aid to Myanmar,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying.

“Members of the team will immediately visit Myanmar’s cyclone-hit areas to make assessments and determine the degree of destruction before extending the necessary relief assistance.”

He said each Asean member country would contribute some 30 medical and relief personnel to the task force to help cyclone victims who are critically short of food, shelter and medicine.

“Some of the relief personnel are already in Myanmar, and some others will go to the areas hit by the cyclone as soon as possible,” the minister said.

The May 2-3 cyclone that devastated Myanmar left at least 133,000 people dead or missing. It is Southeast Asia’s worst natural disaster since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which killed more than 150,000 people, the majority in Indonesia’s Aceh province.

“We will share our experience in handling the 2004 tsunami in Aceh and the 2005 earthquake in Yogyakarta with Myanmar, including how to manage aid and personnel from the international community,” he said.

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