The United States is committed to bringing relief assistance to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. To date, the U.S. has provided more than thirty-five million dollars in humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Defense, as part of an ongoing airlift, have completed over one-hundred-thirty-six airlifts of emergency relief aid that will benefit well over four-hundred-forty-five-thousand people.
But many more Burmese are in desperate need of assistance. According to the United Nations, there are still over one million people who have not yet been reached.
That's why it is unfortunate that the Burmese military junta continues to limit access to the cyclone-affected areas, despite their commitment to do so. Over a month after the cyclone hit the shores of the Burmese Delta, killing an estimated one-hundred-thirty-thousand, hunger and disease remain serious threats due in part to insufficient access for relief.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Burmese regime's restrictions on assistance have put cyclone survivors at greater risk:
"Our difference regarding politics and the Burmese regime are well-known. That said, we put those aside in the interest of trying to save people's lives. We continue that effort. We think that, to the extent that there has been significant loss of life, that we as well as others could have reduced that number had we been allowed to more quickly act with a large-scale intervention."
"The Burmese regime," said White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, "must permit all international aid workers the access necessary to provide the urgently-needed assistance. There is no time to waste."