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Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2008

Survivors warned about resettlement

June 1, 2008

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— Cyclone victims in Myanmar who leave relief camps may not receive the aid they need, making them even more vulnerable to disease and the elements, a U.N. official said Saturday following reports of forced evictions by the government.

Human rights groups have lambasted Myanmar's military rulers, accusing them of kicking homeless cyclone survivors out of shelters. The U.S. defense secretary said the junta's blockage of international help has cost "tens of thousands of lives."

The sharp criticism came a day after a U.N. official reported the government was evicting cyclone victims from camps and "dumping" them near their destroyed villages with virtually no supplies a month after the storm unleashed its fury.

Anupama Rao Singh, regional director of the United Nations Children's Fund, who recently visited affected areas, warned Saturday against premature resettlement, even if it's voluntary. She did not confirm that evictions had taken place.

"Many of the villages remain inundated with water, making it difficult to rebuild," she said. "There is also a real risk that once they are resettled, they will be invisible to aid workers. Without support and continued service to those affected, there is a risk of a second wave of disease and devastation."

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