German Ambassador: Help Is Beginning to Reach Burmese | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 19.05.2008
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German Ambassador: Help Is Beginning to Reach Burmese

Germany's ambassador to Burma, Dietrich Andreas, has visited the Irrawaddy Delta, which was devastated by Cyclone Nargis. He said foreign help is getting to the victims, but much more needs to be done.

People hand food to cyclone victims standing in blue emergency shelter tents

Some local help has been reaching people, but international donations are still stuck

Clean-up and rescue operations are currently running at full speed in the region affected by the natural disaster, which hit Burma on May 2, Andreas told Deutsche Welle. Together with other diplomats, the German ambassador participated in a trip to the affected area that had been organized by the military junta on Saturday, May 17.

Andreas said the extent of the devastation continued to be hard to grasp: large areas are still flooded, streets and houses are destroyed and large parts of the population live in emergency shelters. While the junta visibly tries to get help to people, it's still difficult to provide them with food and other essentials, Andreas said.

"I think that a lot of help has started to have an effect in the delta," he said, adding that he had seen hospitals and schools that had gotten new corrugated iron roofs. "They're cleaning up and working everywhere. Of course this shouldn't cover up the fact that the misery is still immense. Clearly we also visited areas today that have already been reached by effective help."

Some outside help accepted

A woman searches the ruins of her devastated house

Picking up the pieces

On the other hand, many regions still have not gotten any help at all, Andreas said. He added that Germany is trying to reach an agreement with the military junta that German experts can support aid work there. At the moment, most international aid workers are still stuck in Rangoon, Andreas said, adding that a few foreigners have managed to get to the disaster area.

Germany's first aid deliveries arrived at Rangoon airport on Thursday and Friday of last week and Andreas said that the aid packages had been delivered to competent partners such as UN organizations. Andreas said he was confident that the aid would reach those in need in a very short time.

Providing the basics

The German aid flights brought 12 water purification systems to Burma that had been made available by Germany's federal disaster relief agency THW and the German Red Cross. The systems can provide drinking water for 60,000 people on a daily basis. The planes also brought medical emergency kits and medication that were donated by several aid organizations, Andreas said.

"I think the help, including German help, is beginning to reach people," he said.

Andreas added that a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been active in the country for a long time: Malteser International and German agro action, for example, have well-functioning local infrastructures in places that can bring aid to the right place in a secure way.

More help available

A man unpacks aid packages from Johanniter Unfallhilfe in Rangoon

German aid is in Burma, but hasn't gotten to the people yet

The German foreign ministry has made available 600,000 euros ($934,200) for aid flights so far. It is also supporting the establishment of emergency shelters by Malteser International and German agro action in the outskirts of Rangoon and the Irrawaddy delta. More aid projects are done in cooperation with the German chapter of Doctors Without Borders, ADRA, humedica and World Vision.

Apart from supporting NGOs, the German government is also supporting the UN aid organizations that are offering help and logistical work in Burma. The German federal government has so far offered four million euros in immediate aid. More help is available, according to the German foreign ministry.

Tobias Grote-Beverborg, currently in Rangoon (win)

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