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UN Urges Donors To Fund Burma Relief Efforts ASAP

UN urges donors to fund relief efforts in Myanmar without delay

28 May 2008 - The United Nations is urging donors to turn pledges into contributions and to commit funds to the Myanmar relief effort without delay, now that visas for all international UN personnel have been approved.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports today that its Flash Appeal for $201 million is now about 60 per cent funded, but said that more support is still needed.

The UN estimates that about 40 per cent of the 2.4 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis have been reached with some form of aid from local, national or international agencies. Most of those reached are in the Yangon Division in the south of Myanmar, since they are in areas that are relatively accessible. However, UN aid officials remain deeply concerned that in the rest of the Ayeyarwady delta, and in the fifteen worst-affected townships, many victims have received little or no aid.

OCHA estimates that relief efforts will likely last for at least another six months.

In a related development, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it will work with the Myanmar Government to open schools in cyclone-affected areas by 2 June. UNICEF said it would focus on damaged and collapsed schools which have not yet been reached by aid agencies.

More than 4,000 basic education schools affecting approximately 1.1 million children were either damaged or totally destroyed, according to UNICEF, which says it is working with the Myanmar Ministry of Education to distribute repair materials to areas badly affected by the storms. Essential school supplies, learning materials and recreational kits for primary schools have also been distributed.

"In any disaster affecting entire communities, the opening of local schools is an important step in the recovery process. Children particularly rely on their daily routines for a sense of security, including the routine of attending school," said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar.

Across the cyclone-affected areas of Myanmar, UNICEF is providing 100,000 essential learning packages for affected children, text books for 150,000 children, 2,000 school kits for affected schools, and 200,000 roofing sheets and construction kits.

ENDS

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