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UN chief to visit cyclone-hit Myanmar

world Updated: May 19, 2008 10:09 IST
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UN chief Ban Ki-moon will travel to Myanmar on Wednesday to try to persuade the leaders of military regime to allow large-scale foreign aid and humanitarian workers to provide assistance to millions of victims of Cyclone Nargis which has killed over 100,000.

Ban's three-day visit comes as the world body estimated that hundred of thousands of victims are at the high risk of starvation and disease with the government refusing to allow large scale foreign aid and rescue workers in the country.

The United Nations could not confirm the officials Ban is likely to meet but said he will tour the areas hit by the cyclone including the worst affect Irrawaddy delta and Yangon, the most populous city, which suffered heavily.

Ban's repeated efforts to contact Myanmar's senior General Than Shwe on telephone had failed but he has sent three letter to him urging him to allow accelerated foreign aid and humanitarian workers.

So far the government has not issued large-scale visas to foreign workers waiting in Thailand and allowed only limited foreign aid which is being mostly distributed by the government agencies.

"The whole purpose of the trip is to accelerate the pace of disaster relief," Chief UN Spokesperson Michele Montas on Sunday said, adding Ban hopes that his presence would "really make things go faster".

The Secretary-General will also hold meetings with senior officials in the government of Myanmar, she said, emphasising that the UN remained willing to work with authorities to try to improve the speed and distribution of relief aid.