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Aid groups cautious as Myanmar opens borders

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Aid groups cautious as Myanmar opens borders


Humanitarian organisations have given a cautious welcome to Myanmar’s decision to allow in foreign workers to distribute aid. It was announced after the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon travelled to the cyclone-hit country to push its military rulers over this issue. General Than Shwe told him that experts “regardless of their nationality” would be let in to deliver aid to the 2.5 million people made homeless. Western relief groups reacted positively to the news but wanted more details. They are worried about being restricted to the Yangon region.

A UN spokeswoman said things need to move quickly: “The great problem will be the beginning of the monsoon because the torrential rain will make the roads impracticable, so we’re turning to boats, boats will be needed, it’ll be the only way to transport aid to hundreds of small natural islands, and others that have been created by the floods caused by the cyclone,” she said.

Around 134,000 people are reported killed or missing but the death toll could be significantly increased by disease and hunger if victims don’t receive aid soon. The relief effort will likely be boosted in Yangon on Sunday at a donor-pledging conference involving Asian nations.

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