U.N. launches Myanmar appeal and resumes aid flights

The United Nations appealed for $187 million (96 million pounds) in aid on Friday to help 1.5 million victims in cyclone-ravaged Myanmar and said it would resume relief flights despite the military government's seizure of food supplies, Reuters reported.

U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes said initial pledges totalled about $77 million to provide water, food, medicine, shelter and other supplies to survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which killed tens of thousands of people.

"I think more pledges will follow," Holmes told reporters after he addressed representatives of the 192 member states, saying he was confident the appeal for $187 million would be met. "The important thing is that the response is there."

While Myanmar's reclusive junta has had little direct contact with the outside world, it stated its preference through state-run media to accept "relief in cash and kind" -- but not foreign aid workers, many of whom are waiting for visas in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The generals approved one U.S. aid flight, due to arrive as soon as Monday, nine days after driving winds and a wall of water swept across the low-lying Irrawaddy Delta.

The U.N. World Food Programme initially said it was suspending aid flights after the military rulers of the former Burma impounded food shipments on Friday.

During an emergency meeting of member states about the U.N. appeal, dozens of envoys voiced concern at the difficulties aid workers were having getting in. But Myanmar's envoy insisted food and other aid were being sent where needed upon arrival.

"We are ready to cooperate fully," Ambassador Kyaw Tint Swe told the meeting. "Regarding access, we hear you and I will certainly report back to the authorities."


Earlier, Myanmar's envoy said the country would accept aid "from any quarter" and confirmed it approved the U.S. flight.

"We're going to make as effective use of that flight as we possibly can," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. While the permission was "positive," he said, many more relief runs would be needed to cope with the disaster.

U.S. officials did not know who would distribute the aid from that plane once it lands, McCormack said. They were still trying to get visas for the U.S. team waiting in Bangkok.

Myanmar has not updated the official toll since Tuesday, when it said nearly 23,000 were dead and 42,000 missing. Even those numbers, predicted by Western aid workers to rise sharply, make Nargis the worst cyclone to hit Asia since 1991.

U.S. charge d'affaires Shari Villarosa has said the death toll could reach 100,000.

The United States, long strongly critical of Myanmar's junta and the delays allowing in relief, was urging other countries to use what leverage they had with the generals.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke by telephone on Friday with Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. A day earlier she spoke with China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, McCormack said.

Ban urged the junta to accept aid and humanitarian workers "without hindrance," saying the survival of Myanmar's people was at stake. He said he had so far not been able to contact Myanmar's senior general, Than Shwe, to ask him in person.

The prime minister of neighbouring Thailand, asked by Britain and the United States to try to persuade the junta to admit foreign aid workers, cancelled a visit planned for this weekend after Myanmar made its opposition clear.

The World Food Programme said it had decided to send in two relief flights as planned on Saturday, "while discussions continue with the government of Myanmar on the distribution of the food that was flown in today, and not released to WFP."

The impounded WFP shipments contained 38 tonnes of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed 95,000 people. Planes loaded with food and equipment from several Asian countries have also landed in Yangon in the past few days.


Survivors have been mostly fending for themselves after winds of up to 190 kph (120 mph) whipped up a massive wall of seawater, inundating the delta.

The saltwater has not only destroyed homes but ruined freshwater wells, grain stores and rice fields. The survivors are desperate.

"There are no NGOs here. No U.N. Only me," farmer Tei Lin told Reuters near the town of Labutta.

The junta broadcast a message on Friday, urging citizens to do their patriotic duty and vote on Saturday for a constitution drafted by the junta. It made no mention of the cyclone or even that voting in the affected areas has been postponed.

The junta's opponents have suggested the reason for the delays in allowing in aid workers could be that the generals do not want an influx of foreigners before the referendum.

Chris Beyrer, a medical doctor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health in Baltimore and an expert on health care and human rights in Myanmar, said some local aid workers managed to reach the disaster site and were reporting they most needed cash to help victims buy supplies from military commanders.

"The issue is that there are food and relief supplies and medicines to some degree available and people are being charged for them," Beyrer told a think-tank panel in Washington.

"The regime does not fundamentally have the interests of its people as its primary concern."

The U.N. weather agency forecast more strong winds and rain for the coming week, adding more urgency to the international drive to start a full-blown disaster relief effort of the kind that was seen after the Asian tsunami in 2004.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said France was sending a naval ship with 1,500 tonnes of aid and capable of carrying heavy-lift helicopters, even as it waited for visas and authorization.

The navies of France, India and Britain are conducting exercises off the east coast of India and the U.S. Navy is taking part in joint exercises in Thailand.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, welcomed approval of the U.S. flight -- a day after saying he was "outraged" by the junta's lack of cooperation.

"We hope this is the beginning of a broader effort between our governments," he said, adding the U.S. Navy had several ships in the Gulf of Thailand, including one with 23 helicopters that could be used to fly aid to remote areas.

U.S. officials said the junta seemed to be taking a pragmatic approach to the crisis but did not appear to have the infrastructure to distribute aid, raising the risk that supplies could remain on the airport tarmac.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
S Korea's effective measure to free Iran's frozen fund - Iran deputy FM
S Korea's effective measure to free Iran's frozen fund - Iran deputy FM
Iran has been destabilizing actor in many ways - US State Dept on Iran's action against Azerbaijan
Iran has been destabilizing actor in many ways - US State Dept on Iran's action against Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani, Iranian FMs hold phone talks
Azerbaijani, Iranian FMs hold phone talks
Loading Bars
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe exceeds 240 mln
Morocco police seize over one tonne of cocaine in Tangier port
Latvia announces four weeks of lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike
Chronicles of Victory: President Ilham Aliyev interviewed by Russian TASS news agency on October 19, 2020 (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Chronicles of Victory: October 19, 2020
Occupation Museum, Memorial Complex and adjacent Victory Park will be built in Fuzuli
Israel congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Turkish President congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Tigray forces say air strikes hit Ethiopia's Mekelle, government denies
Czech president too ill to work, politicians discuss relieving him of duties
PMs discuss Belarus-Kazakhstan economic cooperation
Pentagon chief says US values Georgia as strategic partner
Azerbaijan's flag illuminated on TV tower in Georgia due to anniversary of restoration of Azerbaijan's independence (PHOTO)
Iran unveils details of its trade turnover with Oman
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Iran’s Lavan Oil Refining Company reveals products on sale at IRENEX
Post Bank of Iran sees increase in revenues
Price of Turkmen gas supplied to China grows - Wood Mackenzie
Turkey's Presidential Administration congratulates Azerbaijan on Independence Restoration Day
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,245 more COVID-19 cases, 409 recoveries
Georgia and US sign Memorandum of Understanding
Uzbekistan Railways expanding transport, logistics co-op with sea and dry ports
Azerbaijan to hold new auction for state property facilities
Saudi fast-food franchise operator Alamar Foods considers IPO
French ambassador makes statement on occasion of Azerbaijan's Independence Restoration Day
German companies interested in expanding economic co-op with Azerbaijan
EU has exported over 1 bln COVID-19 vaccines
U.S. manufacturing output declines in September
Azerbaijan issues startup certificates to more SMEs
Uzbekistan’s private airline launches flights from Tashkent to Moscow
Iran eyes resuming import of Turkmen gas
Azerbaijan's Khudafarin bridge in Jabrayil district - finally liberated (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan’s renewable energy potential exceeds installed capacity fourfold
Kazakhstan to extend food import substitution measures amid COVID-19
Ukraine has every capability to restore infrastructure of Azerbaijan’s liberated territories – MP
Playtech acquired for $3.7b
Total value of Azerbaijan's oil export abroad up in 9M2021
Georgia to further develop relationship with Azerbaijan - Georgian MFA
EU Special Representative for South Caucasus to visit Azerbaijan
Iran records decrease in production of raw steel, steel products
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Turkish MoD congratulates Azerbaijan with its Independence Restoration Day
Ukrainian companies may partake in construction, restoration of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam – MP
Azerbaijan's announces drastic increase in car imports for 9M2021
Pan-European Executive MBA designed specifically to integrate holistic approach to business (VIDEO)
NATO ready to support ensuring peace in South Cacasus region - special rep
Non-OPEC oil output to more than half from 2020 levels
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for October 18
Israel and Azerbaijan are great allies and partners, who have common interest in region – former Israeli MP
European renewables generation to exceed 6,000 TWh
Over 60% of total investment to be spent on developing new oil & gas fields
Iran’s NICICO boosts extraction and production
Azerbaijan Automobile Federation organizes 'Time Attack' race (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's foreign trade turnover increases in 9M2021
Year passes since Azerbaijan's liberation of Khudaferin bridge from Armenian occupation (PHOTO/VIDEO)
EU gas production falls by 8%
Share of renewables in EU power generation mix decreased
North Carolina declares Oct. 18 as Day of Restoration of State Independence of Azerbaijan
MUSIAD aims to raise trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Turkey (VIDEO)
EU gas consumption reaches highest level in last seven years
EIB, EU Commission ink deal on financing for alternative fuels infrastructure projects
Armenia’s failure to provide minefield maps to Azerbaijan impedes restoration work in liberated territories - FM
Azerbaijan sees no effective steps from Armenia in opening transport links - minister
Azerbaijan recommends revanchist forces not to go down wrong path - PM
TAP updates on progress in market test
Azerbaijan stands for normalizing relations with Armenia in post-conflict period based on int'l law - FM
Turkey reveals cargo traffic with Netherlands for 8M2021
Master plans for Zangilan, Gubadli, Kalbajar and Lachin being prepared, will be done without taking any loans - Azerbaijani president
Khudaferin Bridge is proof of talent of Azerbaijani people - President Ilham Aliyev (VIDEO)
Physical gas flows, nominations at TAP’s interconnections
Great leader Heydar Aliyev returned to power at request of the people, then threat of losing independence again was prevented - president
Azerbaijan boosts gas exports
People of Azerbaijan tirelessly walked towards this victory - President Aliyev
Turkish FM tweets on marking Day of Restoration of Azerbaijan's Independence
Iranian currency rates for October 18
Kazakhstan sees rise in gold jewelry price
IRICA shares data on Iran’s export to neighboring countries
Azerbaijan gives update on mine clearance work on its liberated lands
Azerbaijan calls for urgent interim measures against Armenia
Bank of Georgia allocates funds to back project at local construction company
In villages of Fuzuli, each house will have at least 12 acres of land - president
Azerbaijani First VP Mehriban Aliyeva shares post related to October 18 - Independence Restoration Day on Instagram (PHOTO)
Banks to start connecting Mir cards to Google Pay from October 26
Kazakhstan reveals main objectives of national agro-industrial complex project until 2025
Qatari companies might participate in restoration of Azerbaijan's liberated territories - FM
Gas price in Europe down to $980 per 1,000 cubic meters as trading opens
President Ilham Aliyev receives Turkish minister of labor and social security
President Ilham Aliyev receives delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister of State of Qatar
When I shared news of liberation of Fuzuli, whole world saw that we would complete our glorious mission - Azerbaijani president (FULL SPEECH)
Israel and UAE nearing free trade agreement
Coal’s share in Other non-OECD Asia’s generation mix to reach 50% in 2050
Iran increases raw steel exports
Azerbaijan prevents attempt to violate maritime state border (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers to soon issue proposals on raising social payments
Azerbaijan’s shares data on GDP growth for 9M2021
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan resume bus transportation
Iran's IRENEX discloses sales of Persian Gulf Fajr Energy Company
Georgia shares data on COVID-19 cases for October 18
All news