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One Year Later, Burma's Nargis Victims Still Need Help


The United Nations says that one year after being hit by Cyclone Nargis, hundreds of thousands of people in Burma are still in need.

In a statement, the U.N. said there are urgent needs for sustainable shelter for half a million vulnerable people and for support to agriculture and fishing. The storm killed 138,000 people.

Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Bushow Parejuli, who has been leading the U.N.'s assistance efforts for the past year, said many of the dwellings in which people are now living were made of materials salvaged from wrecked buildings, with tarpaulins spread over them to deflect the rain.

He appealed for more aid, including $16.6 million for seeds, fertilizer, draft animals and agricultural tools, to allow farmers to plant in time for the upcoming rainy season.

International donors have given $315 million in aid - less than half of what the United Nations has requested. The amount is also far less than the $12 billion donated after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 200,000 people.

Burma came under international pressure after the May 2 - 3, 2008 typhoon for rejecting international assistance.

The military government has also arrested people who tried to provide assistance to the survivors.

Human rights groups said Friday that at least 21 community aid workers who were involved in helping cyclone survivors are still in prison.

Human Rights Watch and a Thailand-based group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, called on neighboring countries to press Burma to release people who were unfairly imprisoned for helping cyclone victims and criticizing the government's response.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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