Thailand offers Don Mueang Airport as relief hub for Myanmar
Thailand has offered Don Mueang Airport - Bangkok's old international airport - as a hub for relief supplies bound for cyclone victims in neighbouring Myanmar, dpa reported Monday.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon over the weekend requested permission to use Don Mueang's empty cargo hangars to store emergency supplies for the World Food Programme (WFP), said the Bangkok Post.
Don Mueang, formerly Bangkok's international airport, has only been used for domestic flights since the opening of the 3-billion- dollar Suvarnabhumi International Airport in September 2006.
"The government has agreed," said Thai Foreign Minister Noppodon Pattama, before departing Sunday for Singapore to attend a meeting of South-East Asian foreign ministers on the Myanmar humanitarian crisis.
Although Myanmar's military rulers have welcomed international assistance to the estimated 2.5 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis, which hit the central coastal region on May 2, they have blocked international aid workers from flocking into the country.
The restictions on foreign experts has slowed logical operations, according to UN sources, and ultimately hampering the delivery of food, water, shelter and medicines to the needy, especially those living in remote areas in Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta.
More than 133,000 people are dead or missing in the cyclone, according to government figures, making Cyclone Nargis the worst natural catastrophe to hit South-east Asia since the tsunami of December 26, 2004.
Aid workers have warned of a "second wave" of deaths to disease and hunger in Myanmar, if the international relief programme is not accelerated soon.