More funds needed to help Myanmar recover, rebuild from devastating 2008 cyclone, UN says

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid still are needed to help Myanmar's people recover and rebuild from Cyclone Nargis two years ago, the United Nations said Friday.

Health, nutrition and education have significantly improved due to relief efforts after the disaster, said Bishow Parajuli, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar.

"But two years on, significant gaps threaten to slow down or even halt longer-term recovery efforts," he said. "Our work is far from done and the people still need help."

About $180 million of the $690 million required for a three-year recovery plan has been received, said Parajuli.

Cyclone Nargis caused widespread devastation in the Ayeyarwady Delta and parts of Yangon in May 2008. Some 140,000 people died, and 2.4 million people were severely affected.

The U.N. said recent assessments show 100,000 vulnerable families still need to rebuild their homes, 180,000 people face acute water shortages and agricultural support and community job opportunities are needed.

A U.N. statement appealed for the international community to support the Nargis recovery plan and recognize that cyclone recovery was a long-term process.

The plan was developed last year by a body that includes representatives of Myanmar's government, U.N. agencies and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.