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Former student activists urge military to allow humanitarian aid

AP, 08 September 2005

Yangon: Prominent former student activists in Myanmar have urged the ruling military to allow humanitarian aid to reach the country's needy to alleviate health and education problems.

Their plea came just weeks after the U.N. Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria cut its funding to Myanmar, saying travel restrictions imposed by the junta made it impossible for them to carry out their work.

"Myanmar, which is one of the least developed countries, can effectively solve its health and education problems through humanitarian aid," said a statement read Wednesday by prominent former student activist Ko Ko Gyi.

Many people in remote parts of Myanmar lack access to basic health care, and schools throughout the isolated country have few resources.

The activists also urged the military government to work with pro-democracy groups and to establish a transparent and accountable monitoring system so that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it the most.

The activists were led by Min Ko Naing, who played a leading role in a nationwide pro-democracy movement that helped topple a 26-year socialist regime in 1988 but was ultimately crushed by the junta. He was released from prison in November after nearly 16 years.

Ko Ko Gyi, 43, was freed from prison in March after more than 13 years.

Meanwhile, the U.N. children's agency released a statement in the capital, Yangon, calling for more support to protect the health of children and women.

"UNICEF needs additional funding to protect more children and mothers in Myanmar against anemia and other causes of chronic malnutrition," UNICEF Acting Representative Elke Wisch said in the statement.



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