Burma's military rulers have approved a single UN flight bringing supplies to victims of the Nargis cyclone. As the official death toll tops 22,000, most foreign aid workers are still awaiting permission to enter the country. (Story: S. Silke)
The Burmese government has granted the UN permission to fly 35 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplies and a rescue team into the country to help the victims of cyclone Nargis.
The international community and the Burmese opposition have been exerting continuous pressure on
Humanitarian NGOs expect the death toll to rise as rescue teams gain access to isolated disaster zones. The International Red Cross Federation has appealed for €4 million in emergency donations. Those funds are intended for the purchase of rescue supplies.
The junta is keeping the brakes on
Western leaders have accused
The main worry on the mind of humanitarian organisations is the delivery of food, equipment and specialised teams to the area. According to Cyril Payen, the “handful” of workers already present in
Many humanitarian workers specially trained for cyclone emergencies are still waiting for visas. The head of mission in
“The Burmese authorities are accepting equipment and rice, but not foreign rescue teams. Precious time is being lost,” Cyril Payen said.
On Wednesday, France called on the UN to coerce Burma into allowing access for relief teams. “We are seeing at the United Nations whether we can draw on our responibility of protection -given that food, boats and relief teams are there- and obtain a United Nations' resolution to impose this need to let aid through on the Burmese government,” France’s foreign affairs minister said.
The European Union was first in pledging humanitarian aid on Tuesday, with an initial €2 million package. EU officials have also called on
“Don’t give money to the military”
The military junta and Social Affairs Minister Maung Maung Swe have officially said that help from international humanitarian missions was welcome, despite imposing “conditions” on their entry. However, Mr Swe told AFP that rescue teams would have to negotiate the terms of their entry into the country.
In an SOS-style appeal, the Burmese opponent insisted that donations and humanitarian organisations should “be allowed into the country and reach the people who need them most”.
Date created : 2008-05-07