Is Myanmar Opening?

Making the first visit to Myanmar by a UN secretary general in more than four decades, Ban held talks with Than Shwe and later told reporters that he had agreed to let in all foreign aid workers.

International aid groups reacted cautiously yesterday to the announcement that Myanmar would allow all foreign relief workers into the country, stressing that details on the ground were still unclear.

Groups said that the relief effort needed more than simply foreigners flying in to the main city Yangon.

“The important issue is whether we can leave Yangon or not,” Paul Risley, spokesman for the World Food Programme, said in Thailand.

The secretive junta has all but sealed off the southern Irrawaddy Delta hardest hit by the storm on May 2 and May 3, which left at least 133,000 people dead or missing and approximately 2.5 million in dire need of immediate aid.

Young Burmese cyclone survivors play near their damaged house on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, on Thursday.
PHOTO: EPA

“We still have to clarify what this means — who can get in, who can go where,” John Sparrow of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

“Does it mean that the people we have standing by can enter the country? Does it mean we can gear up and go full throttle?” Sparrow said. “It isn’t clear right now.”

The US and France have naval vessels in nearby waters laden with relief supplies, but Myanmar has refused to let them in — and it was not immediately clear if that situation would change.

The result from the UN Secretary General visit is a positive move to the right direction.

But as reactions from International Aid Groups emphasize, they are many questions with no answers until now.

Let’s hope…

 

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One Response

  1. […] Disaster Is Expected in Burma Posted on May 31, 2008 by fvarga In a previous post, I mentioned the visit of the UN Secretary General in Myanmar (Burma), giving hope for the […]

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