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Myanmar: UN welcomes increased access for international aid workers

Myanmar: UN welcomes increased access for international aid workers

Cyclone-affected families take refuge at Leikkukone Pagoda in Pyapon township, Myanmar
The United Nations today welcomed the Myanmar Government’s decision to allow more international aid workers into the hardest-hit areas in the country to support the ongoing recovery effort after Cyclone Nargis.

At the same time the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also called for increased access for aid workers with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as relief efforts pick up speed.

OCHA added that it was critical that all returns by people to their homes in the Ayeyarwady delta area should happen on a voluntary basis, stressing that any forced movement of populations is completely unacceptable. OCHA said that this has been raised clearly with the authorities and that the UN would monitor the situation closely.

As of yesterday, OCHA estimates that a total of 178 relief aircraft have unloaded supplies in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency has established field units in two townships in the delta area to increase aid supplies and to better assess people’s needs.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has flown 405 tons of emergency supplies into Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, on nine flights, according to a spokesperson.

The supplies include plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and kitchen sets for the devastated country.

UNHCR said it had provided shelter for more than half of the 250,000 cyclone victims it is committed to assisting under the UN Flash Appeal that was launched earlier this month.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting the Government of Myanmar to repair schools and distribute educational materials. UNICEF estimates that more than 4,000 schools were either damaged or destroyed by the severe storms, affecting more than one million children.

In the coming six months, UNICEF plans to support the repair and renovation of around 1,000 primary schools and 400 pre-school facilities.

The opening of schools in seven townships in the delta has been delayed from the scheduled 2 June date, but other schools in the cyclone-hit area will be opening as planned.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) continues a major operation to supply rice, beans and other foodstuffs to affected populations. The UN estimates it has delivered food to approximately 483,000 people out of the planned 750,000 target.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed surveillance teams to monitor for the outbreak of disease, as well as supplying emergency health kits to at risk communities.