STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And next, we're going to follow up on a cyclone in Myanmar. Today, on NPR's Morning Edition, we heard from an aid worker in that country. He says local businesses are helping. Businesses have already provided food and supplies for thousands of victims, leaving only the problem of helping hundreds of thousands more. The military government has now let in an American plane full of supplies.
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Myanmar is not formally allowing foreign reporters into the county, which is why we are not saying the name of NPR's correspondent who's there. We go now to him. Tell us what the situation is in Myanmar today, as you've observed it.
Unidentified Man: A Western diplomat told me today that the situation here is grim and getting grimmer, and that the rain is coming, that it would be a challenge to get stuff into the affected areas even in the best of times and now it's a double challenge, and that some aid is getting out. But the vast majority of the population of the people that are affected by this haven't been reached. And the UN says that as many as two million people need assistance here, and the most optimistic assessment I heard today from an aid group that has lots of people on the ground here was that, you know, maybe 20 percent of that number had been reached. And if that's true, I mean, that's what? Like a million and a half people who need help who haven't gotten any help, and we're nine days into this thing already.
MONTAGNE: Now the military government continues to refuse aid personnel, allowing them into the country, and is in - by some reports holding up aid. What do you know about that?
Unidentified Man: The WFP had a little trouble over the weekend getting flights in, getting shipments in here. They sent some high-energy (unintelligible) and some other supplies in here over the weekend, and those were actually seized by the government here for a couple of days. But those have since been returned. There have been more aid flights that have gotten in today, but it's been a trickle. And what they need here is a torrent. And the only torrents they're getting right now is rain. And that's going to put a tremendous on these people that are on the ground already. The US government did get a C-130 transport, a military transport in, with aid supplies today. And I think that was symbolically important.
I know that US has been pushing to have the Myanmar government allow as much aid in as possible, and the US is not the Myanmar government's favorite foreign government. I mean, they're very, very paranoid here. And so for the US to be allowed to send one flight in is symbolically important. But, of course, they want to get much more aid in. They're hoping that this is, you know, the foot in the door, and that they can get more shipments in. There are two more that are scheduled for tomorrow. You know, as I said, it's a trickle, and what they need is a torrent. And they don't have it yet.
And the visas are still being refused to many of these international aid organizations that want to put people on the ground that can do this, that know how to do this. And the government here just doesn't have the capacity to do so, even though in the New Light, a Myanmar newspaper this morning, the government economic development minister was quoted as saying that the delivering of relief goods can be handled by local government officials. And aid agencies say that's just, you know, impossible.
MONTAGNE: We know there are thousands of people in need of help down in delta, but there in Yangon, have you talked to any refugees who've made their way into the city?
Unidentified Man: I've talked to some people who've come over the river, some people who've lost their homes or just been forced from their homes by the flooding, and they've come over here and they're basically doing what they can to settle in with relatives here or with friends here, and some of them have ended in some of these makeshift camps that have been set up by some of the NGOs that are here. And they just describe grim conditions there and aid that isn't reaching there and they're wondering, you know, what their government is doing for them. And a lot of these people are bitter that the government went ahead with this referendum over the weekend, even though they have this massive humanitarian catastrophe just across the river here in the Irrawaddy Delta.
MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.
Unidentified Man: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: And we'll talking to you soon. NPR's reporter in Myanmar's capital, Yangon. We're not naming him for his own safety.
This is NPR News.
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