Cyclone relief aid moving to Myanmar, but not enough: UN

June 7th, 2008 - 12:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 7 (DPA) Myanmar’s military government has provided entry visas to 180 UN relief workers and authorised other international staff to provide assistance to victims of last month’s Cyclone Nargis, the top UN coordinator for emergency humanitarian operations has said. Myanmar’s opening of its doors to international relief aid was described by John Holmes as “in the right direction.” But he said the government should allow more aid workers and more relief goods inside the country.

Holmes said there were still 20 pending applications for visas from UN workers and he expected them to be approved.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has sent 200 personnel to Myanmar, while Japan and Germany have teams working on water treatment there.

Myanmar has also allowed 20 personnel from the French group Doctors Without Borders to work, while relief workers from other groups have visited the country since Nargis struck its southern delta region on May 2.

More than 100,000 people died or were still missing.

Holmes said about 15 relief flights have landed in Yangon daily since the government openly accepted international assistance in mid-May. Sea and land routes are also opened to aid convoys, he said.

“It is our view that relatively few people are not reached or visited at all, but it’s still quite a long way from being in the position where everybody is receiving everything they need in the long-term basis,” Holmes said.

He said the UN has reached more than 1.3 million people of the estimated 2.4 million people in need of assistance. But Myanmar’s own efforts and others have provided help to many other victims of the cyclone.

“There has been no evidence at the moment of unusual health risks or unusual health statistics coming to light, and no evidence of starvation at the moment even though many people still need significant aid,” Holmes said.

He said the international community has pledged or given a total of $155 million to the relief campaign.

In addition, Holmes said governments have contributed $83 million and pledged $51 million in response to the UN flash appeal of $201 million launched last month for Myanmar.

“We would like more contributions and pledges coming to make sure that the aid pipeline remains full in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

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