While many people in Myanmar are struggling to survive after Cyclone Nargis counting is underway in the country’s referendum on a new constitution. The ruling generals have appeared on state television, distributing aid and being clapped by crowds of children in what appears to be an orchestrated display of disaster relief. But there is still precious little of that on the ground. Aid workers await visas and food and other supplies are only being allowed to trickle in.
An estimated 1.5 million people lack food, shelter, and clean water. In just 24 hours medical experts say the risk of a cholera outbreak will become acute, but the referendum is getting far more attention from the regime. When aid does arrive it is impounded for distribution by the army. There are reports boxes marked with the donor country or organisation are being remarked. It is estimated only about half a million of the survivors have received any sort of aid until now.