The opposition Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation urged the Raul Castro government on Tuesday to accept international humanitarian aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which left 11 people dead and massive damage on the eastern part of the island.

The group asks that the president "urgently' consider the possibility of allowing a year of tariff- and tax-free entry into the country of medicines, food and other goods sent by individuals, governments and NGOs.

The commission also suggests that the Communist government grant "all kinds of facilities" to religious institutions to help them handle the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Besides the commission, other dissidents and critics in Cuba have made similar requests over the past few days.

Hurricane Sandy, which struck the northeast coast of the United States on Monday, last week lashed the eastern region of Cuba leaving 11 people dead and a panorama of devastation with tens of thousands of homes collapsed, downed utility lines and significant damage to agriculture.

President Raul Castro has been since Sunday in Santiago de Cuba, the province hardest hit by the hurricane, where he visited devastated centers of production and social services.

The Cuban government has not yet made a total economic estimate of the amount of damage caused by the hurricane. EFE