On Friday, May 2, Cyclone Nargis and the 12-foot-high storm surge that followed flooded coastal Myanmar (Burma), leaving up to 100,000 dead and 1 million or more without shelter. Still recovering from the 2004 Christmas tsunami, the military junta in Myanmar was ill equipped to feed, shelter, and care for the storm's countless victims.
But as of May 9, the Myanmar government had refused to allow relief workers to enter the country to distribute aid. Such emergency food and medical aid is at risk of falling into the wrong hands or being resold on the black market. The government, according to reliable reports, had confiscated planes full of emergency rations from the U.N. World Food Program.
As of late Friday night local time, U.N. officials and Myanmar government leaders made progress in negotiations, and two flights of food were expected to arrive on Saturday. Myanmar has 51 million residents, many of whom live on less than $2 per day, the global poverty line.
Relief teams from major Christian organizations and other international agencies are in nearby Bangkok, Thailand, awaiting the government's approval of visas.
From Bangkok, Laura Blank, an emergency communications officer for World Vision, spoke on Friday, May 9, to Stan Guthrie, CT managing editor of special projects.
What is World Vision currently trying to do to help the situation?
As soon as the storm ended, we were able to begin distributing rice, clean water, fuel, rebuilding supplies, and blanketsthe basic things that we wanted to get to people as soon as we could. Because we'd been there for so long, we were able to purchase goods locally and in bulk, and try to start some of the relief efforts on a very small scale.
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