UN appeals for more Nargis aid as monsoon looms

Apr 6, 2009 (DVB), The United Nations has urged the international community to focus increased aid to Burma on cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta as monsoon season threatens the delicate recovery process in the region.

The UN issued a plea at a meeting in Rangoon on Friday, attended by 70 participants including foreign diplomats and non-governmental organizations, for more support to cyclone-affected areas as well as other parts of the country.

"There is an imminent need for sustainable shelter and agricultural support ahead of the monsoon season," said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli.

"The UN also addresses needs for funding to other parts of the country, where immense humanitarian and development challenges exists," he added.

At the meeting the UK confirmed it would increase aid by US$14 million, with 60 per cent of the total to be spent on cyclone areas.

Yet the current level of aid to the country in general is still well below what is required, said Bishow Parajuli earlier last week on a visit to northern Rakhine state.

"I met with a large number of people who are unemployed and have no or very little livelihoods opportunities," he said.

"The UN in cooperation its partners and the Government is currently working to scale up its activities in NRS, for which increased donor support is crucial."

In other news, Burma was named as one of 23 countries to receive part of a US$1.3 billion European Union 'Food Facility' package to support agriculture and improve food security.

Burma's agriculture sector has been hit hard by the global economic crisis, said an EU statement.

"Over the months ahead, we must not forget the impact that the financial crisis and economic downturn will have on developing countries – this is only now becoming clear and could be much worse than expected," it said.

Other countries earmarked for the support include Philippines, Palestine, Ethiopia, Haiti and Zimbabwe.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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