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British Prime Minister Criticizes Burma Over Failure to Allow in Foreign Aid


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has strongly condemned Burma's military government for not allowing international aid to reach its own people. For VOA, Tom Rivers in London has details.

Prime Minister Brown, in an interview with British television, accused the authorities in Rangoon of standing in the way of international support that could immediately help those still severely affected by the cyclone that struck just over two weeks ago.

"This is inhuman," he said. "We have an intolerable situation created by a natural disaster that is being made into a man-made catastrophe by the negligence, the neglect and the inhuman treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants to do."

Both the United States and France have ships in the area and could deliver large aid consignments, but Burma has refused to allow any relief to be moved into the hard-hit delta region directly from the sea.

Mr. Brown told the BBC, the world is watching and the ruling generals in Rangoon are being judged by their actions.

"This is a regime in Burma that is preventing the aid that ought to be getting to the people of Burma, getting there," said the British prime minister. "And we will continue to use every international channel to pressure them to do what is the right thing by the people."

Britain is trying to get its aid to Burma through those regional countries that make up the Association of South East Asian Nations.

Another meeting of that group is to be held on Monday to discuss further donor strategies.

Burmese officials put the cyclone death toll at 78,000, but international relief groups say it is probably much higher. The United Nations estimates that some 2.5 million may have been made homeless.

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