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European Lawmakers Condemn Burmese Officials' Response to Humanitarian Crisis


European lawmakers have strongly condemned Burma's military rulers for their response to the humanitarian crisis in the country's cyclone-ravaged areas.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg Thursday passed a resolution saying that Burmese authorities should be held accountable for crimes against humanity if they continue to prevent aid from reaching survivors in the disaster area.

The non-binding resolution calls on Burma to grant immediate access to all international aid operations and grant visas to relief workers.

The resolution welcomes an agreement reached by ASEAN leaders this week to allow member nations to coordinate international relief efforts. It also urges China and India to use their influence with the Burmese authorities to persuade them to open the cyclone-hit areas to all possible humanitarian aid.

Lawmakers also deplored what they call Rangoon's "distorted priorities" in planning to hold a constitutional referendum May 24 in the region as millions of hungry and homeless people still wait for desperately needed aid.

It is unclear why the vote is still being held as Burma's military government announced earlier this month that the new constitution has already won overwhelming approval. State media said 92 percent of Burma's voters approved the charter during a vote on May 10.

A vote in areas seriously affected by the cyclone was delayed until this Saturday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.