Sunday, May 11, 2008

EU to hold Myanmar meeting

(BRUSSELS) - The European Union will hold an emergency meeting on the humanitarian situation in cyclone-hit Myanmar on Tuesday, the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid has said.

"The purpose of the meeting will be to review the situation and to beef up the response of the EU Member States and the European Commission to this emergency situation," said Louis Michel in a statement issued Monday.

"The Commission and the EU ministers will also try to identify and co-ordinate the best means of facilitating the mobilisation and delivery of international humanitarian assistance."
Tuesday's meeting of EU development ministers comes amid a deteriorating situation in the Asian country.

"In view of the massive scale of destruction and need caused by the cyclone Nargis, and the acceptance by Burmese authorities to receive international assistance, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, has called for an urgent meeting of EU ministers in charge of humanitarian aid to be held in Brussels next Tuesday 13th of May," said the statement.

Michel has indicated that he intends to travel to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, on Tuesday, immediately after the meeting, to discuss with the country's authorities the best way to bring international assistance to the affected population.

"It is our sincere wish to work in close co-operation with the Burmese authorities to urgently alleviate the sufferings of the Burmese people affected by the cyclone", said Michel.
Cyclone Nargis, which smashed into the rice-growing Irrawaddy Delta region in the country's south on May 3, has left nearly 62,000 people dead or missing, according to a government toll.
The military government's refusal to open its doors has infuriated aid groups and foreign governments who say that unless they have free access, the toll from the disaster will rise dramatically as hunger and disease set in.

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