Burma remains defiant on relief workers

Burma’s military regime on Tuesday thanked the United States for a plane-load of aid but said it still was opposed to letting in foreign aid workers to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

Burma Vice-Admiral Soe Thein, quoted in government mouthpiece the New Light of Burma newspaper, said the needs of hundreds of thousands of storm survivors “have been fulfilled to an extent”.

He said the country was grateful for the shipment from the US, one of the most vocal critics of the military regime—which US President George Bush on Monday said was “isolated or callous”.

“The donation will enhance friendship between the governments, armed forces and the peoples of the two countries,” Soe Thein said.

But he reiterated that Burma was not open to foreign aid workers—a stance that has provoked the wrath of the international community.

“Relief and rehabilitation tasks call for a lot of relief supplies and funds,” he said. “So far, the nation does not need skilled relief workers yet.”

A US military transport plane laden with emergency supplies was permitted to land on Monday, and two more US flights are due to arrive on Tuesday.

But aid workers warn that far more relief supplies are needed to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in Burma’s worst-hit areas.

Official media in Burma have reported that nearly 32 000 people were killed when the cyclone slammed into the country overnight May 2, and the UN has warned that up to two million people are in desperate need of aid.—AFP


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