Three weeks after the cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar the situation in the disaster zone remains dramatic. On Sunday (25 May) the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are convening an international donor conference in the Myanmar capital of Rangoon to discuss the international relief effort for the country. The German Government will be represented in Rangoon by Gernot Erler, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office.
In the run-up to the conference Minister of State Erler today (23 May) issued in Berlin the following statement:
"Even if we have recently managed to obtain first concessions from the Myanmar Government and are now seeing further signs that it is willing to allow international relief supplies into the country, getting prompt and professional access to the disaster zone remains the key challenge.
At the donor conference the German Government will accordingly press hard to ensure commitments are made not just on paper and that relief workers actually get access to all those in need. We also hope we can at last make the comprehensive needs analysis necessary for any effective international relief operation."
The Federal Foreign Office is organizing two further relief flights for the cyclone victims.
- The German air force airbus taking Minister of State Erler to Rangoon is also flying out some 10 tons of relief supplies for the stricken country. Its cargo includes medical emergency kits, large tents, moskito nets, a mobile water treatment plant and water purification tablets provided by the German relief agencies Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, CARE, Johanniter Unfallhilfe, Malteser International, ASB, Kindernothilfe and arche noVa.
The flight is due to leave tomorrow (Saturday, 24 May) from Berlin-Tegel airport.
- On behalf of the Federal Foreign Office Malteser International will also shortly airlift relief supplies into Rangoon from the Thai capital of Bangkok. This fourth German relief flight will bring additional mobile water treatment plants, boats, medicines and medical supplies.
During the visit of the United Nations Secretary-General the Myanmar Government today (23 May) gave the first positive indications that it will allow greater access to the disaster zone. To date only international relief workers from ASEAN countries have been allowed access. In the especially hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta German aid agencies can operate only through their local staff and partners. To support the humanitarian aid effort Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has sent a special envoy to Myanmar.
To date the German Government has channelled 4 million euro to German and international relief agencies for emergency aid, including 3 million euro from the Federal Foreign Office humanitarian aid budget. Further assistance is planned.