NLD calls for urgent assistance to cyclone victims

May 16, 2008 (DVB), The National League for Democracy have urged the State Peace and Development Council to immediately start handing out assistance to victims in areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

In an emergency statement issued yesterday, the NLD claimed that cyclone victims in Rangoon and the Irrawaddy delta’s disaster-stricken areas are urgently in need of aid and humanitarian assistance.

NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win said international aid was still not getting to those who need it most.

"According to our sources, none of the aid materials have reached cyclone victims in most places; instead they are being sold at the big markets in Rangoon," Nyan Win said.

"The victims are only receiving a small amount of aid contributed by individual volunteers and donors but these people cannot afford to keep helping in the long term," he said.

"The government has no capacity to do what is necessary either , the only solution is to accept help from the international community."

The United Nations has said monitoring of markets by international observers has not so far uncovered evidence of systematic selling of aid, but acknowledged it may be taking place at a lower level.

The statement also strongly denounced the military regime’s decision to go ahead with the constitutional referendum on 24 May despite the devastation caused by the cyclone on the victims.

Voters in the majority of the country went to the polls on 10 May, but the vote was delayed by two weeks in 47 townships in the worst-affected areas of Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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