Some progress in cyclone relief but help still needed

Jul 4, 2008 (DVB), United Nations officials have said that progress is being made in delivering aid to victims in Burma two months after Cyclone Nargis devastated parts of the country, but help is still not reaching all areas.

Aye Win, a spokesperson for the UN Information Centre in Rangoon, said a lot more assistance was still needed.

"The situation is not yet perfect, but it is at a satisfactory level now , there is still a lot needed to be done to help the cyclone victims on our targeted scale," he said.

"It is true that help is not reaching some areas as it’s supposed to be but the situation has improved a lot compared with how things were before."

Aye Win cited a recent example where aid groups worked quickly to help villages that had not yet received assistance.

"Recently, some aid groups working in the Irrawaddy delta found about five villages that had still not received help," he said.

"They immediately reported the matter to Rangoon and aid supplies were brought there in a helicopter and boats within a short time."

Aye Win estimated that cyclone victims would need help in terms of food aid and other support for about another six months.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said in a press conference in Tokyo on 1 July that it was "encouraging" that the regime had opened up more to international aid workers.

"At this time, things seem to be moving toward the right direction, even though there is still some slowing down as well as some administrative hindrances," the secretary-general said.

", as far as I know, as of today, the international aid workers, UN staff, have been able to carry out their humanitarian assistance as had been agreed between myself and senior general Than Shwe."

Ban called on the international community to hold the Burmese authorities to their commitments to allow aid to be distributed freely.

The secretary-general also reaffirmed his commitment to democratisation efforts in Burma.

The World Food Programme said yesterday that the devastation caused by the cyclone could still be seen in the flooded farmlands and damaged infrastructure, but praised the response of the Burmese people to the disaster.

"[T]he people of Myanmar have proven resilient, picking up the pieces of their lives with a quiet determination," the organisation said in a statement.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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