Jun 4, 2008 (AFP)‚ Britain has pledged an additional 10.5 million pounds in aid for cyclone victims in Burma, taking the total to more than 27 million pounds.
In a statement to the House of Commons Tuesday, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander warned that the situation in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis "remains extremely grave" with "millions of people in desperate need".
"In addition to our previous commitment of 17 million pounds, I am today announcing a further 10.5 million pounds," Alexander said.
"These additional funds will be channelled through the Red Cross, NGOs and local community-based organisations," he said, insisting that none of the aid would pass through the country’s military regime.
"Our priority remains to get assistance to those that need it."
Alexander added that, while Britain was focused on providing help, "this does not diminish our commitment to the restoration of accountable, democratic government in Burma."
He said he was "disappointed and saddened" that the regime had extended pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention further, and added that results from Burma’s constitutional referendum "lack all credibility" as they were held in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone.
Cyclone Nargis left 133,000 people dead or missing when it ploughed across Burma one month ago, laying waste to vital farmlands and wiping villages off the map.
For the first three weeks after the storm, Burma stonewalled international efforts to deliver aid, yielding only after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid a personal visit there to meet with junta leader Than Shwe.
Ban left Burma saying he had convinced the senior general to allow a full-scale relief effort, but days later, UN agencies said access remains spotty, with only a handful of foreign aid workers actually in the worst-hit parts of the Irrawaddy Delta.
Alexander said that the regime’s promises to Ban "must be turned into action".
The UN has said that about 1.3 million people out of the 2.4 million affected by the cyclone have now received some form of foreign aid.