UK charity says hunger could kill thousands of children in Burma

May 19, 2008 (AP), Thousands of children in Burma could die of starvation within two or three weeks, a disaster relief group said Sunday.

Save the Children UK said its research showed that an estimated 30,000 children under the age of five in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta were already acutely malnourished when Cyclone Nargis tore through the region , and that several thousand among them are now at risk of death.

"With hundreds of thousands of people still not receiving aid many of these children will not survive much longer," the charity said in a statement. "Children may already be dying as a result of a lack of food."

More than two weeks after the cyclone devastated Burma, aid agencies have chafed at government restrictions preventing them from reaching the worse-hit areas.

Heavy rains since the storm have also stymied relief efforts, and inhabitants are suffering from a shortage of safe water and proper sanitation. The United Nations and others say that lack of proper aid could dramatically worsen the crisis.

Save the Children said Burma’s long-term food security had been badly damaged by the cyclone because many farmers were prevented from sowing seeds for the harvest.

The death toll from the storm is still unclear. The British government has cited unofficial estimates that 217,000 are dead or missing.

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