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Letter to Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, Re: Help Compel Burma's Military Junta to Work with International Aid Organizations to Bring Assistance to Survivors of Cyclone Nargis

Senate Women's Caucus on Burma Calls on UN Secretary-General to Help Compel Burma's Military Junta to Work with International Aid Organizations to Bring Assistance to Survivors of Cyclone Nargis

The Senate Women's Caucus on Burma, led by Co-Chairs Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), today called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to request his assistance in helping to compel Burma's military junta to work with international aid organizations to bring much-needed assistance to the survivors of Cyclone Nargis.

Following is the text of the letter sent by the Senate Women's Caucus on Burma to UN Secretary-General Ban:

Dear Mr. Secretary General:

As members of the United States Women's Caucus on Burma, we are writing to urge you to use your offices to help convince Burma's State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to allow disaster relief assessment teams into the country and lift restrictions on international humanitarian organizations so they can begin providing much needed relief to the people of Burma.

According to United States Chargè D'Affaires Shari Villarosa, more than 100,000 may have lost their lives from Cyclone Nargis and another 1 million have been left homeless. A large part of the country is without access to safe drinking water. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Burma during this desperate time.

We appreciate your commitment to mobilize the United Nations to support humanitarian relief efforts.

Yet we are concerned that the SPDC has refused to allow a United States disaster relief assessment team to enter the country and has been slow to approve visas for international humanitarian workers from the United Nations, Red Cross, and other relief organizations more than four days after the cyclone hit. In addition, the government's insistence that it distribute all relief supplies rather than groups with proven track records is deeply troubling.

During this humanitarian crisis, the SPDC must allow relief organizations to reach the most vulnerable populations and provide food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies and accept assistance from the US Navy to help find the missing and help stabilize the situation. Unnecessary restrictions will only slow relief efforts and put more lives at risk.

The regime has a history of denying access and restricting delivery of humanitarian aid in Burma. We urge you to help compel the SPDC to allow international aid workers and disaster relief teams into the country and lift restrictions on international humanitarian organizations operating in Burma and the distribution of aid so that the people of Burma can receive the help they so desperately need.

We appreciate your attention to this request and we look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

- Senator Dianne Feinstein
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison
- Senator Barbara Boxer
- Senator Maria Cantwell
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
- Senator Susan Collins
- Senator Elizabeth Dole
- Senator Amy Klobuchar
- Senator Mary Landrieu
- Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln
- Senator Claire McCaskill
- Senator Barbara Mikulski
- Senator Lisa Murkowski
- Senator Patty Murray
- Senator Olympia Snowe
- Senator Debbie Stabenow


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