Queuing for a sack of rice, bottled water, and plastic sheeting is a daily routine for Myanmar’s cyclone survivors. Meagre aid distribution is gathering pace, but, under pressure from regional group ASEAN, the reclusive generals running the country have at last agreed to let in foreign medical workers. ASEAN is also trying to set up an umbrella organisation for aid agencies from outside South East Asia, and the UN’s Ban Ki Moon is expected to arrive this week.
The military junta’s number one Than Shwe has made his first visit to the shattered heart of the disaster zone, and is due to meet Ban Ki Moon. Until now he has refused to pick up the phone when the UN’s boss has tried to call him.
Two weeks into the clean-up period and people are making do with what they can scavenge in an attempt to rebuild, but continuing heavy rain is hampering their efforts, and making life under plastic an enduring misery for the survivors. With the rice crop devastated, and harvested grain rotting in the rain with no way of distributing it, more than two and half million people are now dangerously close to famine, and with weakened resistance, an easy target for disease.