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UN Humanitarian Chief in Burma to Assess Post-Cyclone Need


United Nations humanitarian chief John Holmes has visited Burma's hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta region to assess progress in the recovery from Cyclone Nargis, which devastated the region in early May.

Holmes said Tuesday that significant progress has been made since his last visit in mid-May, but added there are many relief needs that must still be addressed such as reaching remote communities along the southern coast of the Irrawaddy Delta.

He said the "remarkable resilience" of the cyclone victims is evident in the way they are rebuilding their homes and livelihoods.

Wednesday, Holmes is scheduled to meet with aid workers in the city of Rangoon, and Thursday he meets with government officials in the new capital city, Naypyidaw.

On Monday, the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said Burma needs more than $1 billion in aid over the next three years to recover from Cyclone Nargis.

The figure focuses on Burma's most urgent needs - food, agriculture and community rebuilding. The assessment says the cyclone caused an estimated $4 billion in damage.

The World Health Organization says it will help the Burmese government rebuild and re-equip its health facilities, train health workers, and help improve communications and supply systems.

WHO official Richard Garfield, who took part in an assessment mission in Burma, says he was surprised to find the Burmese government had provided more help to the people affected by the cyclone than he previously thought.

Cyclone Nargis tore through Burma's agricultural region May 3, killing more than 84,000 people and leaving more than 53,000 missing.

The storm wiped out about 4,000 schools and destroyed 75 percent of southern Burma's health facilities. It also destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes.

The United Nations appealed earlier this month for more than $300 million in additional aid for Burma, on top of about $180 million already donated.

Australia announced Tuesday it is more than doubling its cyclone aid to Burma, bring its total contribution to around $55 million.

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