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Burma: Progress, But Aid Needed By Vulnerable

In Myanmar, UN relief chief sees progress but calls for aid to reach most vulnerable

22 July 2008 - Beginning a three-day visit to assess the situation of cyclone survivors in Myanmar, the top United Nations relief official said today that relief and early recovery operations are progressing, but more aid is needed to reach remote areas.

"Significant progress has been made since I was last here [in May]. The remarkable resilience of people so severely affected by Cyclone Nargis is evident in the way communities are rebuilding their homes and livelihoods," John Holmes, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, said.

"However, it is also clear that there are many relief needs still to address. We must focus now on reaching the most vulnerable communities in remote areas, especially along the southern coast of the delta," he stressed.

Accompanied by the Deputy Foreign Minister of Myanmar, U Kyaw Thu, and representatives of UN agencies, Mr. Holmes made an extensive helicopter tour of several affected communities in the Ayeyarwady Delta this morning to assess the level of agricultural recovery.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that relief and early recovery activities were continuing to increase, with numerous aid agencies now present in six hubs across the delta.

In the town of Bogale, international and national UN and NGO representatives told Mr. Holmes how they were distributing food, tarpaulins and kitchen sets by boat and helicopter. The aid groups, along with national counterparts such as the Myanmar Red Cross, are working at the local level to identify and fill gaps in the relief effort. Private sector donors are also making key contributions, particularly in house construction.

Mr. Holmes, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, will meet the humanitarian community and donors in Yangon tomorrow. He is also set to travel to Nay Pyi Taw for consultations with the Government on Thursday.

The Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Final Report - produced by the UN, the Government of Myanmar and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), known collectively as the Tripartite Core Group - has put a $1 billion price tag on recovery needs over three years, taking into account such areas as education, health, rebuilding livelihoods, infrastructure, agriculture and the environment. The group carried out an analysis of the current needs of those living in the hardest-hit areas; the scope of the damage in all cyclone-affected areas; and the loss of income resulting from the storm.

ENDS

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