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BURMA - CYCLONE

Junta disrupts UN aid flights into Burma

2 min

The military junta has seized two more plane-loads of aid for the victims of the Nargis cyclone that struck last weekend. As the Burmese voted on a new constitution, the junta remained suspicious of foreign aid workers entering the country.

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The UN food agency said Saturday that Myanmar's military regime has impounded two more plane-loads of cyclone aid, making a total of four that have been seized.

"It's all under the same conditions," said Marcus Prior, a spokesman for the World Food Programme, referring to the first two flights which landed Friday and have been held at customs.

"The situation's very similar to the other two," Prior said.

"We will continue to send in flights. Our discussions with the government continue. We're very hopeful that it will be positive."

The two latest flights, from Dubai and the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, included high-energy biscuits, shelter materials, and communications and office equipment to set up a relief headquarters.

Prior said the United Nations had successfully delivered 5.6 tonnes of biscuits via a Thai Airways commercial flight and that unlike the dedicated flights, those goods had cleared customs.

"It's clearly slower than we would like but we are really hopeful," he said.

The junta has refused to allow in foreign aid experts to direct the relief effort and said that, although it will accept money and aid, it must distribute all supplies itself.

That stance has been sharply criticised by aid organisations and foreign governments, which have urged it to open its doors to a full-scale foreign relief effort with time running out for the storm's neediest survivors.
 

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