German relief group echoes frustration at Myanmar restrictions
A German Catholic aid group, the relief services of the Knights of Malta, joined Wednesday in criticism of the Myanmar government over visa restrictions that have blocked aid shipments to the Irrawady Delta since Cyclone Nargis, reported dpa.
Roland Hansen, who heads the Catholic group's operations in Asia, told ZDF public television in Germany that every step outside the commercial capital Yangon by foreign experts was being restricted by the military junta and permits were even sometimes being revoked.
"We are not allowed into the main disaster zone in the Irrawady Delta. Even the United Nations is complaining about that.
"We can only hope that things will change and that we'll be able to send in a team," he said.
The Knights were awaiting the return from Yangon of a fact-finding team that had been told to estimate how much medical relief and emergency water purification was needed among the stricken people.
Hansen said Myanmar employees of the relief group were allowed to do their job without restrictions, "but the permits for helpers from abroad should be handed out more quickly."
He added that the disaster would increase public pressure on the military regime, saying, "It definitely cannot cope all by itself with a disaster on this scale."
He added that Myanmar's lack of proper public health care would be worsened by the disaster.
Hansen predicted that Myanmar's people would require large sums of aid for the next three years to recover.