Burma’s ruling junta has agreed to allow “all aid workers” into the country to help cyclone survivors, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said today.
Mr Ban’s comments came after a crucial two-hour meeting today with the junta leader, Senior General Than Shwe.
When asked if he thought the agreement was a breakthrough, Mr Ban said: “I think so.”
Burma’s junta has until now refused to allow an unimpeded influx of foreign aid and experts to reach survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which hit the country on May 2-3.
At least 78,000 people were killed and another 56,000 are unaccounted for.
Steve Goudswaard, Cyclone Nargis response manager for charity World Vision , who is currently in Yangon, said: “Agencies like World Vision will be waiting to see how the Myanmar government’s pledge to allow international humanitarian agency staff into the country works out in practice. If our staff are allowed into Myanmar, then this is excellent news.
“There is not a moment to lose in terms of needing to scale up our response. Large numbers of survivors have not so far received adequate assistance and many of them are in an extremely vulnerable situation. Allowing international staff into the country will also ensure our physically and emotionally exhausted national staff have additional support.
“The key thing for us is to get our logistics staff into Yangon to help ensure the supply pipeline runs smoothly to meet demand. With more logistics staff in country we will be able to work effectively with the UN air bridge to suck in aid from World Vision’s pre-positioning depots and get it into the field without any bottlenecks.”