UN appeals for 201 million US dollars for Myanmar emergency relief

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Bangkok, May 25 (UNI) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to the international community to fund the immediate humanitarian needs of the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

The UN is seeking 201 million US dollars for emergency relief for about 1.5 million survivors of the May 3 cyclone for the next three months, Mr Ban told the International Pledging Conference for Myanmar in Yangon.

About 50 countries are attending the conference jointly convened by the United Nations and the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

''To date, we have contributions amounting to some 20 per cent of that amount, with a further 20 per cent pledged. I urge you to be generous today,'' the UN chief told the meeting.

The immediate needs of the cyclone-affected people include clean drinking water, sanitation, shelter, medical supplies and food.

Referring to his visit yesterday to the earthquake-affected Chengdu region of China, Mr Ban observed that unlike China, Myanmar lacked the resources to respond effectively to a large-scale natural disaster.

''Fortunately, China has the capacity to cope with this disaster.

Myanmar does not have resources or capacities to the same degree.

That is why we are here in Yangon today,'' he said.

More than 130,000 people were killed or have been missing after the cyclone, the UN secretary-general said.

The Myanmar government must do its bit by allowing unhindered access to international relief workers to the disaster areas, Mr Ban said, adding he was encouraged by his meeting this week with Myanmar's rulers.

''Myanmar's Head of State, Senior General Than Shwe, responded with flexibility on all these issues when I met him. I hope this marks a turning point in tackling the challenges faced by this country,'' he said.

''Our focus should be on saving lives and helping Myanmar rebuild. We must think about people, just now, not politics,'' he added.

The UN expects the relief effort to last for at least six months.

The UN chief yesterday flagged off the first UN-ASEAN relief flight for Myanmar from Bangkok's former international airport.

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