Survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar are overwhelming the country’s crumbling hospitals and health service.
More food aid has reached the military-ruled country but there’s no sign the government would let foreign experts handle the aid distribution as one member of the medical staff at Cynthia Maung clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border explained:
“In Rangoon, like in many other cities of Burma, some Buddhist monks take the initiative to collect the food and give it to the people who are suffering. But the military did not allow them to bring the food and distribute it.
State television has been carrying footage of the Myanmar military handing out aid packages, widely seen as a propaganda exercise by the regime. Soe Aung of the Myanmar opposition in Thailand believes the military junta is manipulating the situation for its own advantage: “We have had in the past there much assistance from international organizations kept in storage and not distributed openly. Because they do not have the expertise. What they have is the highly corrupted officials using their power to abuse and get rich out of it.”
The ruling generals have reportedly been relabelling the aid in the names of military leaders and delivering it selectively while ignoring the needy. 100,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the cyclone.