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Cyclone Nargis, A Sad Anniversary

On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck Burma, devastating much of the Irrawaddy Delta, wiping out entire villages, and leaving at least 138,000 people dead or missing, and another 800,000 homeless.

One year later, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in food aid and emergency assistance, houses destroyed by the storm have yet to be rebuilt. Shortages of supplies, including drinking water, continue to hamper recovery efforts. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without jobs and decent housing.

After weeks of refusing to allow foreign aid groups access to the Irrawaddy Delta, the military regime that rules Burma eventually joined the Tri-Partite Core Group, formed by the Association of South-East Asian Nations and the United Nations to provide urgent humanitarian relief and recovery work for the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Scores of aid groups and foreign governments, including the United States, provided money and supplies to help the Burmese people recover from the disaster.

"We remember those who died and offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones," said Department of State Acting Spokesman Robert Wood in a written statement on the anniversary of the disaster. "We also honor the bravery and sacrifice of the Burmese people who have worked tirelessly alongside the United States and the international community to help their neighbors attempt to rebuild their lives.

"Since the storm, the United States has provided nearly $75 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma. This provision of assistance would not have been possible without the work of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations, which have facilitated the entry of humanitarian assistance and aid workers over the past year through the Tripartite Core Group.

"We also acknowledge the unfailing work of many non-governmental organizations that provided vital aid and assistance," said Acting Spokesman Wood.

"We express our firm hope that the Burmese government will continue to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people in the affected area, and will also allow expanded access for assistance needed elsewhere in the country," he said. "As we recall the Nargis tragedy, we also express our hope for a better future for all of Burma's citizens."