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More than 1 million Myanmar cyclone victims have received aid, says UN

3 June 2008 – Some 1.3 million people affected by the deadly cyclone that battered Myanmar one month ago have received assistance, the humanitarian arm of the United Nations said today.

In addition, the percentage of those reached in the Ayeyarwady Delta region had increased from 23 per cent to 49 per cent, Elisabeth Byrs of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters in Geneva today.

At the same time, she noted that assistance has not been consistent. “There remains a serious lack of sufficient and sustained humanitarian assistance. That’s why the priority now is a clear analysis of the needs against the assistance available and planned for,” she said, adding that an in-depth assessment of the needs should be completed later this month.

UN humanitarian officials estimate that more than 77,000 people have been killed and 55,000 others are missing since Cyclone Nargis struck on 2 May. As many as 500,000 to 600,000 people, mainly in the delta, have had to be relocated.

Meanwhile, many children in the delta region returned to school yesterday, one month after the deadly cyclone wreaked destruction on local schools. This was made possible thanks to the efforts of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education to repair damaged schools and distribute school materials.

UNICEF’s Veronique Taveau said that the agency had distributed sheet iron for roofing, as well as “school-in-a-box” kits and recreational materials. She added that the return to school had been delayed a further month for children in some of the hardest hit areas.

The Government estimates that 4,100 primary, elementary and secondary schools had been affected by the cyclone, among which 1,255 had been completely destroyed.

UNICEF teams are currently assessing the full damage, taking account of just how many children had returned to school or had not been able to as yet, so that they could adjust their assistance plans accordingly, Ms. Taveau said.

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