International donors have pledged millions of euros in aid for the victims of Cyclone Nargis during a UN-led conference in Yangon. Myanmar’s military leader Than Shwe promised the UN’s Ban Ki-moon that all foreign aid workers would be let in to the devastated Irrawaddy Delta region, a condition demanded by some Western donors.
British International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said: “We’ve not taken any options off the table, but the burden of responsibility rests with the government here in Burma (now Myanmar). It is clear that the international community has spoken with one voice today, and wants to see both increased aid and increased access to the affected areas in Burma”.
Anupama Rao Singh, the regional head of UNICEF, said some access had already been granted: “I am optimistic. In fact, I am very optimistic, not only because the commitments that have been made but also because UNICEF just yesterday received approval for six of our international staff who have been in the country to actually go and visit the affected area in the Irrawady Delta”.
The UN thinks only a quarter of those needing aid have received it, some two and a half million people. US, French and British naval vessels loaded with aid are waiting just offshore. 134 thousand people are listed as dead or missing after the cyclone struck more than three weeks ago.