May 9, 2008 / 8:28 PM / 11 years ago

U.N. appeals for $187 million for aid for Myanmar

(Adds U.N. official, total of initial aid pledges, details)

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 (Reuters) - The United Nations appealed on Friday to its 192 member states to provide $187 million in aid to help 1.5 million victims of cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, despite the ruling military junta’s delays in allowing relief in.

Less than two hours after the launch of the appeal, initial pledges totaled around $77 million, nearly half of the total amount of the appeal, U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes told reporters after he addressed a gathering of representatives of U.N. member states.

"$77 million were mentioned this afternoon and I think more pledges will follow," Holmes said, adding that he was confident the appeal would be met. "The important thing is that the response is there."

Holmes said he shared the hope of many speakers that the statement of Myanmar U.N. Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe that his country was open to aid from any quarter would be a "turning point" in its cooperation with the international community.

Holmes added that he hoped cooperation with Myanmar, formerly Burma, would now be "as flexible and rapid as possible."

Myanmar’s envoy responded to the dozens of countries that expressed concern about the difficulties aid workers were having getting into the country by insisting that food and other aid supplies were being sent where needed upon arrival.

"We are ready to cooperate fully," Swe told the meeting. "Regarding access, we hear you and I will certainly report back to the authorities."

The United Nations said in a document detailing the call for contributions that the plan was to provide aid to at least 1.5 million people for a minimum of three months. However, the the appeal made it clear that planning for the Myanmar aid operation was fraught with uncertainty.

"The current difficulties surrounding access to the affected areas, the difficulties in bringing further relief supplies and expertise into the country ... are casting a shadow over planning," it said.







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