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Junta in Burma (Myanmar) presses ahead with vote, rebuffs most aid efforts

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Three Red Cross aid flights carrying shelter kits and other urgent supplies landed in Myanmar Friday without incident. But the junta seized two planeloads of aid, including 38 tons of high-energy biscuits, sent by the United Nations, prompting the UN to suspend its efforts. The UN later said that it would resume flights, sending in two more planeloads of supplies.

The UN estimates that the storm affected about a million people, and the death toll could rise dramatically in the next few weeks due to disease and the lack of fresh water, food, shelter, and medical facilities. The WFP has distributed 90 tons of rice to people in Rangoon and surrounding areas, and seven tons of high-energy biscuits.

This is "nothing when you are talking about a million people in need," says Erika Joergensen, the WFP's deputy regional director for Asia. "All aid workers are having trouble obtaining visas. It's going very slow."

The UN and Red Cross have sent out about 15 assessment teams into the region that will report back in the next few days. The WFP has already issued an emergency appeal for $54 million, which would feed 630,000 people for six months, although that number could change when new information becomes available.

The International Organization for Migration says it is asking for $8 million. The UN refugee agency says it needs $6 million to fund the immediate shelter and household needs of 250,000 people.

Aid pledges grow

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