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Too many children still need life-saving relief in Myanmar, says UNICEF welcoming government’s response to ease delivery of aid

New York, 23  May 2008 –  UNICEF says that too many children still need life-saving assistance in Myanmar three weeks after powerful cyclone Nargis hit the country. The UN children's agency welcomes the government's promise to ease delivery of aid as some estimates put the number of affected as high as 2.5 million.

The Government of Myanmar has agreed to allow international aid workers into the affected areas - regardless of nationality - and visas to be processed more rapidly. In addition, it is considering granting permission for the establishment of forward supply and logistics bases in the affected areas and additional deployment  of helicopters and boats.

It is a critical moment where we need the full weight of the government and all its assets behind the emergency operation if we are to have a realistic chance of reaching all those affected and before conditions worsen and we see outbreaks of disease take more lives, says UNICEF.

Hundreds of UNICEF relief and assessment missions are in the affected regions delivering essential survival kits, including plastic sheeting for shelter, water purification tablets, medicines, and mosquito nets. UNICEF has also set up "child friendly spaces" in many of the resettlement areas housing displaced populations. These spaces provide children with a safe and secure environment where they can receive food, water, immunization, and shelter. UNICEF is shipping in school and recreation kits as the school year, scheduled for 1 June, will not begin on that day for most children in the affected regions.

UNICEF welcomes the Yangon conference on Sunday as a way of mobilizing investments in the recovery and long-term rehabilitation of the country and its people.

UNICEF has been working in Myanmar since 1950 and has 9 zonal offices and one in Yangon. It had 130 staff in the country before the cyclone hit.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact: 
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York tel: +1 212 326 7426, pmccormick@unicef.org
Miriam Azar, UNICEF New York, tel: +1 212 824 6949, miazar@unicef.org
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York, tel:  + 1 212 326 7452 kdonovan@unicef.org
Véronique Taveau, UNICEF Geneva, tel: +41 22 909 5716, vtaveau@unicef.org
Note to Broadcasters: Download free broadcast-quality UNICEF news video and PSAs with celebrities at: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/unicef





22 May 2008:
UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the visit to Myanmar by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
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23 May 2008:
18-year-old Myo Min Aye Win from Yangon describes the ways that people in Myanmar are helping each other rebuild their lives after Cyclone Nargis.
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