GeriGündem Myanmar still in emergency after cyclone: UN aid
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Myanmar still in emergency after cyclone: UN aid

Myanmar is still dealing with an emergency situation more than three weeks after Cyclone Nargis tore across the country, with 1.4 million people yet to receive any help, the UN aid chief said Sunday.

"We are clearly still in the emergency relief phase of this crisis," John Holmes, head of the UN’s disaster response arm OCHA, said at the start of a donor conference here.


More than three weeks after the cyclone that left at least 133,000 dead or missing, less than half of the 2.4 million people in need of food, shelter and medicine are receiving help, he said.


At least one million, or 41 percent, of the cyclone victims have received aid, but most of them live around Yangon, with people in the hardest-hit regions in the Irrawaddy Delta still waiting for help, Holmes said.


"This aid operation is about helping vulnerable people in dire need, not about politics. The international community is fully ready, capable and willing to help the government provide critically needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar," Holmes said.


"The survivors of this tragedy deserve nothing less. But this leaves a huge amount to do, given the time we have lost."


Myanmar’s military regime has so far blocked most foreign aid workers from entering the delta, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Friday that the junta would allow more disaster response experts into the country.


"The government’s decision on Friday to allow international staff into the delta should assist the much-needed improvement in the scale, quality and speed of emergency assistance reaching affected populations," Holmes said.


"We hope the implementation of this decision will be rapid and simple."


Holmes also said that delivery of supplies into Myanmar was improving, with 10-15 aid flights landing in Yangon each day. "These still need to be stepped up further to meet the need," he said.


Aid agencies are able to handle their own shipments directly, he said, while at the start of the crisis the military had insisted on handling all aid itself.

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