Myanmar’s military supremo visits cyclone victims

May 19th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by admin  

Yangon, May 19 (DPA) Myanmar’s junta chief Senior General Than Shwe finally visited victims of cyclone Nargis over the weekend, two weeks after the storm struck leaving 133,000 people dead and several missing, state media The New Light of Myanmar reported Monday. Than Shwe, who heads the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the junta styles itself, visited cyclone-affected areas in Yangon and the Irrawaddy delta Sunday, state media added.

It was Than Shwe’s first visit to the storm-devastated regions since Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar’s central coast May 2 to 3, leaving more than 133,000 dead and missing and up to 2.5 million people in need of food, water, shelter and medicine.

The junta has allocated 5 billion kyat ($4.3 million) to the relief effort for the cyclone-affected regions, the paper said, but it claimed 50 billion kyat ($43 million) had already been spent on relief, apparently including foreign contributions.

While it has welcomed international aid, the regime has been harshly criticised for refusing to grant visas to international aid workers, and otherwise slowing the emergency operations.

Than Shwe’s sudden show of interest in the plight of his people comes days before a planned visit to the country by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Ban plans to arrive Wednesday for a three-day visit and hopes to meet with officials of Myanmar’s military regime, a UN spokesperson said Sunday at UN headquarters in New York.

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