ibnlive » World

May 08, 2008 at 01:27am IST

Myanmar: More die due to water, food scarcity

New Delhi: Ko Ko Lay — a Myanmar immigrant living in San Francisco — is desperately worried. He can't establish contact with his family back home.

The Burmese activist says, "I called my mum and my sister and I couldn't reach them because the phone line is cut. Also the Internet is down. It's really frustrating for me."

His worry, of course, is that his family may not have survived Cyclone Nargis, but even those who have survived and who are in touch with their families are finding it hard to cope.

In the commercial capital of Yangon, rice, vegetables, eggs and petrol prices have tripled. Out in the Irrawaddy Delta, the situation is much worse.

Despite the best efforts of the army and aid workers, tents, ground sheets, sleeping bags, medical supplies, drinking water and emergency food are only slowly trickling out to the needy.

Vast stretches are cut off after the tsunami like walls of water washed roads away and several thousand people are stranded on islands

They are waiting for aid, but most boats have been destroyed and there are few choppers to carry the goods.

Spokesman UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Richard Horsey says, "It's a huge, huge problem just to get these goods out."

Other hurdles are man made. Yangon Port is closed and Indian and American ships are still waiting for permission to dock and unload relief supplies. Aid agencies are also battling to get the visas and permits needed to do their work.

Clearly, the ruling military Junta needs all the help it can get, but it doesn't yet know just how much assistance to accept from abroad.