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UN chief may send top humanitarian official to Myanmar
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11:37, May 15, 2008

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday he is considering sending his top humanitarian official to cyclone-hit Myanmar to facilitate disaster relief efforts.

He made the remarks to assembled media following a meeting with major donors and other member states at the UN Headquarters, aimed at finding ways to get aid into Myanmar more effectively.

"I am considering sending Under-Secretary-General of OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Mr. John Holmes, with the World Food Program airplane, with humanitarian assistance in the (coming) days," Ban said.

Many participants at the meeting, which lasted several hours, expressed their commitment to providing necessary assistance to Myanmar, he added.

They also expressed concern that assisting Myanmar "must not be politicized," said Ban.

"This is purely, genuinely, a humanitarian crisis," the UN chief said. "I have assured the delegations that I'll try to lead this humanitarian work in a purely, genuinely humanitarian (way)."

The participants agreed on the need to work together, in particular with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the government of Myanmar, he said.

Several specific proposals were discussed during the talks, including designating a UN-ASEAN joint humanitarian coordinator, establishing a logistical hub outside Myanmar, and holding a high-level pledging conference, the secretary-general said.

"I am sure that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting, which will be held on the 19th of this month in Singapore, will reflect on these specific proposals that I have put forward," he added.


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