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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 10:47 UK

Burmese still lack aid a month on

People queue up for food handouts in the town of Tontay
Aid is still needed urgently in the delta region

A month after Burma was devastated by a cyclone, foreign aid agencies say a quarter of a million people have still not received any help.

Despite claims by the Burmese generals that the relief operation is now over, aid workers say there remains an urgent need to provide food, shelter, clean water and other basic aid.

Matt Prodger, a BBC correspondent who has spent the past week in Burma, found there was growing anger against the military government.

He said there were reports of villagers in the worst affected areas fighting with soldiers.

One young man from within the stricken Irrawaddy Delta region told him that the cyclone had killed 1,000 people in his village, yet there had been no assistance from either the military or aid organisations.

The man said that, on one occasion, desperate villagers had fought with soldiers tasked with keeping order in the region.

'Criminal neglect'

In the aftermath of the 2-3 May cyclone, the military government came under huge international pressure to step up its relief effort, and received heavy criticism for refusing to allow foreign aid workers into the affected regions.

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At the weekend, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates accused the Burmese regime of "criminal neglect", saying that the initial delays could have cost tens of thousands of lives.

Returning from a visit to Burma, the UN's food agency chief Josette Sheeran said: "What we need is a seamless global lifeline of relief supplies."

"Progress has been made, but urgent work remains on the critical last leg," she added.

Following a trip by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, during which the junta promised to allow international relief workers into the country, there has been an improvement in the number of visas granted to foreign specialists.

But aid workers say there are still bureaucratic hurdles preventing people from travelling to the delta, and according to our correspondent, hotels in Rangoon are full of aid workers waiting for official permission to begin work in the stricken areas.




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