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

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"This is a major crisis and Burma's military is not providing assistance," says Soe Aung, an NLD member elected in 1990 who is part of Burma's exile government. "We need international help. In this situation it's totally unacceptable to have a referendum. It should be postponed and the international community should be allowed in to help the people who are dying."

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."

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