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Burma Says Red Cross Closings Temporary


Burma's military government has called its decision to close several Red Cross field offices "temporary", following an international outcry over the action.

Burma Police Chief Brigadier General Khin Ye made the comments to reporters today during a news conference in Naypyidaw. He did not say when the Red Cross might resume activities in the nation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday that Burma's military rulers ordered the organization to stop its humanitarian work in five border areas of the country; Mandalay, Mawlamyine, Hpa-an, Taunggyi and Kyaing Tong.

U.S. and British officials condemned the move as did the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-ASEAN. Singapore's government also expressed strong regret about Burma's decision.

The Red Cross says the closures have made it effectively impossible to provide assistance and protection to Burmese civilians living in areas where ethnic minorities are often in conflict with the government.

The Red Cross has urged Burma's government to address urgent humanitarian issues. The last meeting between the agency and Burmese officials took place in Geneva earlier this month.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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