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ASEAN Assessment Team
12:02am, Jun 5th 2008
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A 200-strong team of aid experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the UN started deploying in Myanmar's cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta on Thursday, ASEAN said.

The Emergency Rapid Assessment Team was "now ready to move into the cyclone stricken remote delta areas" to start a long-awaited examination of the needs of millions of people affected by the May 2-3 storm, ASEAN said in a statement.

"We will begin with two advance teams being ferried by the World Food Programme's helicopter to two main townships of Labutta and Pyapon," ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said.

The move comes a day after the United States gave up trying to convince the Myanmar military government to allow aid-laden warships stationed off the devastated southern delta to deliver their vital supplies.

Cyclone Nargis left more than 133,000 people dead or missing when it smashed into the country formally known as Burma, but the secretive military government has severely limited the access of foreign relief workers.

The United Nations estimates that of the 2.4 million survivors in need of food and shelter, 1.1 million have received no foreign aid.

International relief agencies have been desperately appealing to the Myanmar government to remove obstacles and allow them to do their job amid fears of many more deaths from disease and hunger in the months ahead.

ASEAN has also come under criticism for its slow response to the storm and its apparent unwillingness to pressure Myanmar's generals over a humanitarian issue in the face of such a catastrophe.

Surin said the next two weeks would be "crucial for building international confidence in this joint mission" between ASEAN, the UN and Myanmar government.

The team will report on its findings in mid-July, ASEAN said.-

 

 

 

 



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