Canada sending emergency shelters to Myanmar

Tue May 13, 2008 6:51pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada will send emergency shelter kits to aid survivors of Myanmar's cyclone, but expressed concern on Tuesday over how much the government there was doing enough to help its own citizens.

Canada will send 2,000 kits that can provide emergency shelter for some 10,000 people, with the aid scheduled to be airlifted to Thailand and distributed by the International Red Cross, Canadian officials said.

But Ottawa echoed concerns voiced by other countries about how the military junta in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was handling the disaster that has left more than 1.5 million people struggling to survive.

"We call upon the Burmese government to move rapidly to meet the immediate needs of the affected communities, rather than pushing forward with the upcoming referendum on the constitution," Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said in a statement.

The junta in Myanmar has accepted aid from the outside world but help has only tricked in as the military rulers have made it clear they do not want outsiders distributing it.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)