Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 18:43 UK

Rangoon aid worker: Frustration

A relief worker with the organisation "Operation Blessing" tells BBC News the authorities are making life difficult for him and fellow aid workers trying to reach areas worst-hit by Burma's cyclone.


Photo courtesy of "Operation Blessing"
Cyclone survivors are now being drenched by monsoon rains

Looking out of the window I can see the rain pouring down in torrents. These monsoon showers are going to be hitting the most affected zone.

So, the people who are exposed and who have lost their homes are going to be extremely wet, and that's going to bring a whole new set of problems for them.

These are people who haven't been getting medical attention anyway, now they're going to get damp and it's going to bring a lot of sickness.

The western aid workers on the ground here are not being allowed into the affected zone, so we've had to be quite creative.

We're sending local doctors in because it's the only way to access the affected areas.

These local teams are reporting a huge spike in respiratory illness because of the weather, especially among children.

These are children who have been sitting exposed for a couple of weeks now. Many have hardly had anything to eat, so their immune systems are going to be low, they're undernourished.

This has to be one of the most emotional crises we've ever worked on. Right now, three hours drive from where I am sitting, there are people in urgent need of all sorts of things: medicine, shelter, food and water, and we can't get to them.

Unfortunately the authorities are making it very difficult for us to do almost anything.

It's two weeks since this happened and there are still people we are hearing about who haven't been found

When we first got on the ground - despite the difficulties of even getting into the country - we were able to get to the most affected zone.

Then the authorities closed the door, and now no western aid workers can get in.

So, we are training local teams to go in. They are getting some aid in, but it's a very difficult situation to be in.

We are stuck in Rangoon and we want to be in the crisis zone.

It's two weeks since this happened and there are still people we are hearing about who haven't been found, let alone reached with aid.

If you think, the Asian tsunami killed about 230 thousand people. Now agencies are saying at least 200 thousand people have been killed here.

This crisis is getting worse by the day, no end in sight, people are dying. It could soon overtake the death toll of the tsunami.

A few months down the line, when we have a clearer picture, it will be really sad to think how many lives were lost after the cyclone hit, because we were stopped from getting aid to where it's needed.


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