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Burma's (Myanmar's) elite help with aid

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On May 12, a number of executives formed the Cape Negrais Committee, named after the site where the cyclone first slammed into southern Burma's Irrawaddy Delta.

The team has so far helped 45,000 to 75,000 people on Middle Island, one of their areas of operation in the delta, says Mark Tippetts, an Englishman and longtime Burma resident who oversees the Pun Hlaing golf course, a favorite haunt of Burma's elite.

The hard-to-reach delta is where many of the more than one million people who have yet to receive aid are located, according to the United Nations.

Htoo Trading, led by young entrepreneur Tay Za, is operating in the delta's Bogale area. Tay Za came under US economic sanctions last October when President Bush tightened restrictions on ranking members of Burma's ruling junta and associated business groups.

Another company, Max Myanmar Ltd., is running relief operations in the town of Labutta.

'He's got boats'

Save the Children, a respected international organization which has reached about 300,000 cyclone survivors in Burma, is working closely with Serge Pun, the chairman of Yoma Bank and 40 other companies, who is not under US sanctions.

"I feel absolutely comfortable with our relationship with him," says Mr. Kirkwood, adding that, before accepting Pun's offer to help, the aid agency conducted a background check and concluded there was no reason to refuse.

"He's got boats and people and warehouses, and we've got lots of aid to deliver, and together we can get stuff to people who need it," Kirkwood continues.

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