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Asean deploys assessment team to cyclone-hit areas of Myanmar


Jakarta : The Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Thursday deployed a 200-member team to the cyclone hit areas of Myanmar to begin a full assessment of the damage and the urgent needs of the victims, officials said Thursday.

The Asean-UN-Myanmar Tripartite Core Group agreed that after two days of intense briefing for their team, they are now ready to move into the cyclone stricken remote delta areas, Surin Pitsuwan, the secretary-general of Asean said in a statement.

“We will begin with two advance teams being ferried by World Food Programme’s helicopter to two main townships of Labutta and Pyapon,” secretary-general added.

The assessment team will comprise members from the Asean countries, UN agencies and the Myanmar government, the statement said.

An Asean roundtable is expected to take place June 24 in Yangon with full participation of the Asean Humanitarian Task Force (AHTF) which will have its own third meeting on the next day, for an “emergency response and recovery,” the statement said.

“This is important in view of the fact that Asean itself needs to build our capacity to prepare for similar emergencies in the future,” he said, adding that the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are supporting Asean for this exercise.

UN officials estimate more than 77,000 have been killed and 55,000 others are missing since cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar May 2 and May 3.

Cyclone Nargis left an estimated 2.4 million people in need of food, shelter or medical care. The UN said some 1.3 million have received assistance.

Asean members include Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.