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Brussels, 5th May 2008

Myanmar: European Commission provides €2 million in fast-track humanitarian aid for victims of Cyclone Nargis

The European Commission has launched a fast-track decision to provide emergency relief for victims of Cyclone Nargis that struck Myanmar at the weekend. The funds, managed by the Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), are being mobilised rapidly to help meet the basic needs of survivors in the disaster zone.

Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "With every hour that passes, the news coming out of Myanmar gets grimmer and grimmer. This is a terrible catastrophe that demands a quick and effective humanitarian response. Hundreds of thousands of people, many already destitute, are in desperate need. In the face of this tragedy, we want to demonstrate what the EU values of solidarity and humanity stand for. Our humanitarian aid will be provided directly and impartially to the victims."

The Commission already has an office in Yangon dealing with other humanitarian programmes in Myanmar. Although communications are bad, the Commission's humanitarian expert in the country has been able to establish contact with Brussels. There are unconfirmed reports of up to 95% destruction in some communities in the Irrawaddy Delta due to a combination of high winds and a huge tidal surge. Water supply systems are said to have been badly hit. The main needs, in the initial phase, are therefore likely to be for shelter and clean drinking water. The authorities in Myanmar indicated today that international assistance would be welcome.

This initial funding will be channelled through experienced humanitarian partner organisations working in Myanmar including the Red Cross, European NGOs and UN agencies. The Commission is deploying additional experts from its regional humanitarian offices in Bangkok and New Delhi to strengthen its team dealing with the crisis.

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