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Government gives £3m for Burma help

The UK is to provide around £3 million of emergency aid to help the estimated quarter of a million-plus victims of last month's cyclone in Burma, the Government announced.

While the eyes of the world are focused on the capital Rangoon for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the scale of the "hidden" disaster in the west has become clear.

No official assessment of the damage has been issued by the military rulers but independent agencies on the ground now believe more than 260,000 people have been severely affected.

Many in the western Rakhine State lost homes, livelihoods, access to clean water, food and sanitation in the damage wreaked by Cyclone Giri.

Officials said all of the cash would be given to trusted aid agencies and not the junta.

Grants worth £2.25 million will pay for clean water, sanitation and healthcare equipment and services for about 80,000 people, including emergency health consultations with qualified medical professionals, long-lasting anti-malarial bed nets and emergency sanitation kits.

The rest will supply enough food for at least 28,000 people for the next three months via the World Food Programme.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: 'This disaster was in danger of being forgotten, ignored and unseen by the international community.

"Thousands of families have lost their homes, crops have been flooded, houses destroyed and villages wiped out. Many families are completely dependent on aid for their survival.

"Without urgent help now, the situation will continue to deteriorate, as a lack of food and disease spreads amongst the survivors."

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