24 July 2008 The top United Nations humanitarian official today held talks with Myanmar’s Prime Minister to discuss progress made in assisting survivors of the deadly Cyclone Nargis which struck the South-East Asian nation in early May.
Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes told the Prime Minister, General Thein Sein, and other officials in the capital Nay Pyi Taw that the positive steps taken regarding relief operations and recovery, as well as stepped up access for international aid workers, is largely a result of bolstered cooperation between the Government, the UN and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“We hope that the dialogue and cooperation built up in the last couple of months over the Cyclone Nargis response can be continued and improved, and in future extended to other humanitarian issues as well,” said Mr. Holmes, who wrapped up a three-day visit to Myanmar today. “We must make sure that humanitarian efforts continue to be separate from politics.”
He also told the Prime Minister, who welcomed continued collaboration with the UN and other partners, that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and others are ready and willing to provide disaster preparedness, risk reduction and early warning assistance to Myanmar.
“In May donors requested access for international relief workers and a credible, objective assessment: these are both now in place,” said Mr. Holmes, who also serves as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
“Nevertheless, we need to continue working to improve access still further, particularly for new international NGO partners,” he added.
Released earlier this week, the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Final Report put a $1 billion price tag on recovery needs over three years, taking into account such areas as education, health, rebuilding livelihoods, infrastructure, agriculture and the environment.
Mr. Holmes stressed that this assessment serves as a road map for the relief and recovery efforts, noting that greater action is needed to reach those in the most remote areas of the hardest-hit Ayeyarwady Delta.
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