The U.N. says it needs more than $300 million to assist the hardest hit victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. This brings its total appeal to the international community to more than $480 million since the storm struck in May.  From U.N. headquarters, VOA Correspondent Margaret Besheer has the story by intern Maha Saad.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes says that while progress has been made in aiding the people of Burma, more humanitarian assistance is needed for the two million people severely affected by the storm.  He says this money will continue funding the emergency relief effort through April 2009.

"Through the revised appeal, some 13 U.N. agencies and 23 NGOs [non-governmental organizations] are now appealing for $481.8 million all together.  In other words, $280 million beyond the initial $201 million appeal. And given the contributions we have received to that initial appeal, that means that $303.6 million are still needed," he said.

The new appeal revises an earlier one made immediately after the storm.  A current assessment highlights the unmet needs of the victims.

Holmes says the new appeal addresses 13 key areas including agriculture, education, health, information management, and water and sanitation.

He added that aid workers have been able to reach cyclone victims in all the hardest hit areas - particularly the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon division.

More than 140,000 people are dead or missing.  Burma's U.N. representative, Kyaw Tint Swe, says that his government is pleased that the international community is willing to help.  He says his government and the international community should play a role in the relief effort.

"We recognize that the primary role to take care of the victims of Cyclone Nargis is the national government's.  At the same time, the challenge posed by a natural disaster of this magnitude can only be addressed with the help and assistance from the international community," he said.

The Burmese ambassador says that the Burmese government has taken steps to improve the conditions of those severely affected, including assisting with agriculture, distributing relief supplies, and providing temporary shelter and medical assistance.