American supplies have started to reach Burma. Three U.S. Air Force C-130 transport planes landed in Rangoon on May 12 and 13 carrying water, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, and blankets from an air base in Thailand.
Burma's military junta has been reluctant to allow foreign assistance into the country since the devastation of Cyclone Nargis. But the need of the Burmese is overwhelming. According to Burmese state television reports, approximately thirty-two thousand people have been killed, and at least thirty-three thousand people remain missing, although aid organizations are reporting as many as sixty-three thousand to one-hundred thousand fatalities. According to the United Nations, approximately one-and-a-half million people have been affected.
The United States is prepared to do all it can to ease the suffering of the Burmese people. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Henrietta Fore said the U.S. agency has allocated sixteen-million-two-hundred-fifty-thousand dollars in assistance. According to the United Nations Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance, the most urgent needs are plastic sheeting for emergency shelter, clean water, cooking sets, mosquito nets, emergency health kits, food, and fuel supplies.
Some assistance is reaching those in need, but not nearly with the speed and quantity necessary. AID Administrator Fore said the U.S. is urging "the Burmese regime to grant full access to the affected areas to international humanitarian relief teams and to nongovernmental organizations so that they can help provide assistance to those who are most in need."
The U.S. and the international community stand ready to deliver millions of dollars of desperately needed relief supplies to the Burmese people. It is up to the Burmese government to grant full access to devastated areas within Burma so that relief workers can get a massive international assistance effort underway.