Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued this statement today about recovery from the devastating cyclone in Burma:

“I strongly support the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people through appropriate channels in light of the horrible toll of the cyclone in Burma. Our hearts go out to the tens of thousands of families affected by the horrendous natural disaster, which was evidently worsened by the government’s failure to provide coordinated information to the public.

“The Administration plans to deploy a disaster assistance response team to assess the need before further decisions are taken on the scope of U.S. support; I believe this is the right approach.

“It is to be hoped that the Burmese government, at such a time of humanitarian crisis, will focus its efforts on distributing food, medicine and humanitarian supplies, and will welcome international assistance. The Burmese government’s official newspaper reported today that a constitutional referendum unilaterally written by the military junta will proceed as scheduled on May 10, despite the devastation. I question the wisdom of pressing forward with an unnecessary and flawed referendum, especially when tens of thousands of Burma’s citizens are dead, missing or homeless.”

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