Burmese voters in Rangoon and the Irrawaddy delta, many hungry and homeless due to Cyclone Nargis, cast their ballots in a much-criticised constitutional referendum. FRANCE 24's Alice Beaumont and Alice Boussat report.
Disaster relief officials said there was "no time to lose" to help
The junta, criticised by the West for failing to accept a full-blown aid operation following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis three weeks ago, went ahead on Saturday with a referendum in the Irrawaddy Delta and
The rice-growing Delta and the former capital were hit by the vicious storm in which nearly 134,000 people were left dead or missing. Disease, hunger, lack of shelter and medical treatment threaten up to 2.5 million people, according to United Nations humanitarian aid officials.
The plebiscite on the army-drafted constitution took place in the rest of the country on May 10 with a 92.4 percent approval after voters were repeatedly told by authorities to vote "Yes".
Voting started on Saturday in
In what was considered a breakthrough to ramp up aid to the delta, Senior General Than Shwe gave an assurance to visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday that Myanmar would allow in aid experts "of all nationalities" after weeks of restrictions.
"We have no more time to lose, so it's imperative that the
In one part of the delta between Bogalay and Pyapon, aid workers said conditions for villagers appeared dire as police ordered them to dismantle the small thatched huts many have built near the main road since surviving the cyclone.
"We are afraid of staying in our former villages -- even the dogs are scared when the wind blows," one woman said.
She said people had also moved closer to the road because it was easier to receive handouts from passing vehicles carrying food and clean water.
State-run media reported that U.N. officials and diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other donor countries toured the delta on Friday with government officials.
It was seen as essential preparation before a joint U.N.-ASEAN pledging conference in
About 60 countries, U.N. agencies and other bodies will be represented, said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The reclusive junta has accepted relief flights into Yangon from many countries, including the
Supplies and medical teams from several Asian countries have also been allowed in, but many westerners working with humanitarian groups were denied visas or restricted to
At Friday's meeting between Ban and Than Shwe, U.N. officials said the military vessels were "a very sensitive idea for them -- any suggestion they should dock", but generals told them
Date created : 2008-05-24