Aid 'lottery' for Myanmar survivors

Witnesses say soldiers drawing lots to see who gets the little aid getting through.

    Aid groups worry devastated areas face a second wave of deaths from malnutrition and disease [EPA]

    "A member from each family was given a number and the soldiers held a lottery," said the man sheltering in Mae Sot, a Thai town bordering Myanmar where hundreds of survivors are holed up after crossing over in search of help.


    "One hundred families got one egg, six cans of condensed milk and one potato. Those who drew a blank ticket had to walk away," he said.


    In video

    Survivors face threat of disease and malnutrition

    A former soldier from Myanmar said despite the destruction by Cyclone Nargis, government troops were still demanding money from survivors to pass through checkpoints to get to Thailand.


    Aid agencies complain that many obstacles remain in reaching survivors.


    The UN children's organisation, Unicef, says that the amount of aid reaching survivors differs according to locality.


    "From our teams on the ground what we are finding is that some degree of assistance has got across but it's nowhere sufficient to meet all of the needs," Anupama Rao Singh, Unicef's regional director, told Al Jazeera's Selina Downes.


    "And certainly the degree of access and the degree to which relief supplies have actually reached those in need varies from township to township."


    'Shocking' pace


    More than 1.2 million people have yet to
    receive aid, relief groups say [EPA]

    Aid groups worry that with insufficient food and clean water, devastated areas of the country face a second wave of deaths from malnutrition and disease.

    The United Nations said in its latest report that "there remains a serious lack of sufficient and sustained humanitarian assistance for the affected populations".


    The world body said it lacked "a clear understanding of the support being provided by the government of Myanmar to its people".


    Tidal surges on May 2-3 reached some 25km inland, laying waste to entire villages and leaving 78,000 people dead and another 56,000 missing, according to the government's count.

    "People need basic relief, which is shocking after four weeks," said Sarah Ireland, the regional director of Oxfam, a UK-based humanitarian agency that is still trying to gain permission to work in Myanmar.


    "If we were in a normal response by week four, those affected should be
    working toward recovery," she told The Associated Press.


    "They would be in a position perhaps to think about what they need to restart their lives. But we know people on the ground don't have food to eat."


    In depth: Myanmar cyclone

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    Before and after

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    Picture gallery

    The shipment of aid for the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta has been particularly difficult.


    With only seven government helicopters flying to the area, relief supplies are mostly being transported along dirt roads and then by boat.


    Boats able to navigate the debris-filled canals are also scarce and efforts to import trucks and other vehicles have been hampered by government red tape.

    Meanwhile, aid workers who have visited affected regions have reported that scores of displaced people have been expelled from temporary shelters in schools, monasteries and public buildings.


    The expulsions appear part of the military government's attempt to show that people are capable of rebuilding their lives without foreign help.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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