Aid and assistance has been prevented from entering Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, by the government.

 

The generals who control the military government are highly reclusive and suspicious of outside interference in their country.

 

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has said that between 68,833 and 127,990 people have died as a result of the cyclone.

 

'Humanity'

 

John Terrett, Al Jazeera's correspondent at UN headquarters in New York, said: "The mood now is to try to convince the generals, beginning with John Holmes when he flies in, that this is all about saving lives, it is all about humanity.

 

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"This is not about politics, but they will make it about politics if they refuse to let more aid in, particularly aid workers.

 

"The UN is saying they don't have to be American aid workers, or European. They can be Asian. But you do have to let them in."

 

The UN is concerned that if more aid is not allowed to reach those in need many more people may die from disease and starvation.

 

About 2.5 million people are said to be in need of assistance after the cyclone hit on May 2. The majority are without housing or food.

 

France and Britain announced on Thursday that they would be sending emergency supplies to Myanmar.

 

'Clock is ticking'

 

A French official said that an aircraft with 40 tonnes of food rations and other aid had landed in Yangon, the former capital, on Thursday.

 

In depth: Myanmar cyclone


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Satellite photos: Before and after

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Picture gallery

Video: Survivor tells her story

A navy ship was also being sent with aid, but it was not clear whether it would be granted access to the country.

 

The UK promised $23.43m to add to a fund of $10m announced last week.

 

Douglas Alexander, the British secretary of state for international development, said: "The key priority is to deliver humanitarian aid as quickly as possible. The clock is ticking.

 

"I reiterate our call on the Burmese authorities to grant full and unfettered access for international assistance."

 

The government had controlled the distribution of aid within the country.

 

However, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), a Paris-based aid group, said they they have been authorised to fly in and distribute aid on Thursday.