Diplomats Tour Myanmar U.S. Charge D'Affair Shari Villarosa was part of a group of diplomats given a tour Saturday of the cyclone-struck areas of Myanmar by the country's military government. Villarosa tells Liane Hansen she is concerned that there are hundreds of thousands of people who haven't received assistance. She hopes officials there will open up and welcome international assistance.
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Diplomats Tour Myanmar

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Diplomats Tour Myanmar

Diplomats Tour Myanmar

Diplomats Tour Myanmar

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U.S. Charge D'Affair Shari Villarosa was part of a group of diplomats given a tour Saturday of the cyclone-struck areas of Myanmar by the country's military government. Villarosa tells Liane Hansen she is concerned that there are hundreds of thousands of people who haven't received assistance. She hopes officials there will open up and welcome international assistance.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

International outrage continues to grow over the way Myanmar's military regime is handling the aftermath of a major cyclone that struck more than two weeks ago. The aid group Save the Children is warning that thousands of children in the country will starve to death without emergency food.

U.S. Charge d'Affaires, Shari Villarosa was among 60 or so diplomats who were given a tour of the devastation yesterday. When we reached her today in the capital, Yangon, she called the tour a show.

Ms. SHARI VILLAROSA (U.S. Charge d'Affaires): I saw some tents, I saw some refugees. Sometimes in the tents I saw that they didn't exactly look lived in. A school where we went and we saw about 2,000 people, that did look like it was being lived in.

HANSEN: Were you able to see any other places? I mean, what does it look like on the ground there?

Ms. VILLAROSA: Well, we flew over and so because we're pretty close to the ground so you could see how heavily flooded this area still is. And that's salt water, so that is destroying the land, which is prime rice-growing area and it's contaminated all the freshwater ponds that people depend on for bathing and drinking.

HANSEN: What do you think the purpose of the military tour was?

Ms. VILLAROSA: To show us that they have everything under control. And they indicated that they consider the search and rescue phase over and that they are shifting to rehabilitation. I remain very concerned that there's hundreds of thousands of people who haven't been reached by any assistance more than two weeks after this terrible cyclone hit.

HANSEN: Do you think international access is going to be granted?

Ms. VILLAROSA: I remain hopeful that they will realize that this was a massive disaster on such a great scale that no one country can handle it and that they will eventually open up to welcome more international assistance. Some international assistance, including from the United States, is coming in. But there's a lot more that could be coming in as soon as they give the word.

HANSEN: What are your plans now? How do you plan to use this visit in your work?

Ms. VILLAROSA: I have been working full time along with that of the entire U.S. embassy staff - both Americans and Burmese. We're on a liberal leave policy and they're all coming to work every day.

HANSEN: U.S. Charge d'Affaires Shari Villarosa, thank you very much.

Ms. VILLAROSA: Thank you.

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