Days after Cyclone Nargis devastated parts of Myanmar, aid workers are still having a tough time getting emergency supplies to the victims. Slowly, however, there is some improvement, say German relief workers.
Germany is sending water cleaning facilities to Myanmar, which can supply drinking water to 40,000 people
Cyclone Nargis completely devastated the area and much of the local infrastructure around the town of Bogoly in the Irrawaddy river delta.
Olaf Behlert, a German who was in Myanmar last week, described the situation: “The town is destroyed. Thousands have probably lost their lives. As we were driving away, we saw lots of dead bodies floating in the water, or lying on the riverbanks.”
“Diseases, such as malaria, can spread very fast in such an environment -- we know this from the monsoon,” Behlert explained.
“Diarrhoea is a huge problem because of the contaminated water. Children are especially at risk. We heard from the villagers that several children have fallen ill because of the unsanitary environment and parasites.”
Hindrance on part of junta
Yet, help could be available within hours. But the military junta has shown itself to be more interested in the recent referendum than in the victims of the cyclone. Aid workers are not being granted visas but tourists are, apparently.
One aid worker complained that the victims of the cyclone had “to wait for medical supplies” whereas tourists could just come in and view the devastation.
So most international aid workers can do nothing but wait in Thailand until the military junta allows them in. But aid supplies have been allowed to enter Myanmar by the junta and slowly people are getting access to emergency relief. The aid workers who were in the country when the cyclone struck have been allowed to carry out their work.
The German Federal Agency For Technical Relief has sent water cleaning facilities to Myanmar, which can supply 40,000 people with clean drinking water.
But there is another problem as Moritz Wohlrab from the NGO Germany Helps Birma, explained: “The bad thing is that because people in Germany have the impression aid isn’t reaching the people, the donations haven’t been so high.”
On top of people being worried about what is happening to aid, there is also a fear among observers that the attention could shift from Myanmar to the China earthquake.