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UN says several hundred thousand need water and shelter

May 6, 2008 (DVB)-The United Nations says several hundred thousand people in Burma are in need of emergency shelter and clean drinking water, and discussions with the authorities on providing assistance are underway.

Richard Horsey, spokesperson for the OCHA in Bangkok, said it remains difficult to get a clear picture of the effects of the cyclone that hit Burma over the weekend.

"The United Nations and the large NGOs have some assessment teams on the ground in the affected areas, so some information is starting to come back from Irrawaddy and Yangon divisions and we're starting to get a picture of the situation," he said.

"However, it will take a few days before a complete and accurate picture is available, because travelling around these areas is of course very difficult, and also communications are very difficult."

Horsey said the UN has been discussing with the Burmese authorities how best to deliver assistance to those affected.

"What is clear is that there are several hundred thousand people in need of emergency shelter and clean drinking water," he said.

"There are discussions underway between the UN and the Myanmar authorities on what assistance the UN can offer and how best this could be delivered to the people who need it."

Some assistance is being delivered from supplies put in place before the cyclone hit, but Horsey said more help was clearly needed.

"We're discussing both in the country and also at the international level with the authorities on what the UN can offer them in terms of assistance and how best to deliver that, and how practically to get the assistance to the people," he said.

The Burmese regime has said it would welcome international aid to support relief efforts, and a number of foreign governments have already pledged assistance.

The UN said in a statement yesterday that plastic sheeting, water purification tablets, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits and food were urgently needed.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw


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