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ICRC chief blasts Myanmar junta

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned Myanmar's military regime for stonewalling aid to its country's beleaguered citizens.

This content was published on May 25, 2008 - 12:36

Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the Swiss-run ICRC, was interviewed in the Sonntag newspaper on Sunday.

"The government makes it impossible for us to fulfil our mission – to bring aid to the people in the conflict area on the Thai border," he said.

Apart from the devastating cyclone that hit in early May, the southeast Asian country faces other challenges, including an autocratic government concerned primarily with its own survival.

International donors on Sunday promised nearly $50 million (SFr51.17 million) in aid to the Myanmar government. Switzerland raised its contribution to SFr4 million, with SFr1 million allocated to the World Food Programme.

Many donors have said the assistance will be contingent on the junta keeping the country open to foreign aid workers.

The Myanmar leadership had promised on Friday to allow "all aid workers" into the country following a visit from the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon.

The ICRC says it will allocate a greater percentage of its over SFr1 billion annual budget to aid Myanmar.

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