May 14, 2008

Why Junta rejects aids for cyclone victims

Burma's military rulers continue to defy growing international pressure to accept foreign aid workers, insisting against all the evidence that it can handle cyclone relief effort alone

"The nation does not need skilled relief workers yet," Vice Admiral Soe Thein said in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece for the military which has ruled the nation with an iron grip for nearly half a century.

He said the needs of the people after the storm, which has left around 62,000 dead or missing since ripping through the southern Irrawaddy delta on May 2 and 3, "have been fulfilled to an extent".

But aid agencies tell a starkly different story, warning that as every day passes without sufficient food, water and shelter, as many as two million people are at risk of being added to the already staggering death toll.

The United Nations warned of a "second catastrophe" and said the relief effort posed an "enormous logistic challenge" that needs an air or sea corridor to get in massive quantities of aid as soon as possible.

Cyber Realm