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

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As of Thursday, the UN had tallied donations of $25 million from 28 nations, the European Union, and charities. An additional $25 million has been pledged by donors.

That amount rose Friday, when Japan pledged $10 million in aid, through the UN. France announced that it was sending a navy ship loaded with 1,500 tons of humanitarian aid to Burma. The Gates Foundation also donated $3 million via aid agencies Mercy Corps, Worldvision, and CARE, and will provide software to help reunite family members separated in the cyclone, founder Bill Gates said.

A British travel company donated a luxury cruise liner to transport relief and 25,000 shoes were sent by a US-based international aid group, Soles4Souls, though the shipment was not yet allowed into the country.

The junta, said in a statement that it was grateful for outside assistance, which has included 11 chartered planes of supplies, but that the best way to help was to offer aid rather than personnel. The government itself was capable of delivering aid to affected areas, it asserted.

A flight from Qatar was turned back after landing in Rangoon Thursday because a search-and-rescue team and media members were on board who did not have clearance to enter the country. But the junta did agree to allow one American cargo plane to bring in supplies, though it continued to bar any foreign workers from coming in to distribute them.

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