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May 16, 2008

UN chief awaits visa as junta rebuffs aid calls

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes awaited Thursday a visa to travel to Myanmar where he hopes to press the government to allow in foreign aid to help survivors of the deadly cyclone, the UN said in a press relief.

As state media raised the death toll to 43,318, with nearly 28,000 still missing and another two million in dire need of help, Myanmar's Southeast Asian neighbours geared up for talks aimed at convening a high-level donors meeting.

UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said Holmes, who heads the body's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, had requested a visa "and we expect he will get it," adding he should be travelling " in the next five to six days," AFP quoted the spokeswoman as saying.

The United Nations has warned that, almost two weeks after Cyclone Nargis ripped through Myanmar, many more people may die unless they receive help.

But the country's ruling generals have dug in their heels, and again rebuffed calls to allow in the foreign relief workers needed to quickly deliver food, water, shelter and medicine.

More on Myanmar


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