Int'l Aid Trickles in to Myanmar's Desperate

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WASHINGTON - Myanmar's military government is finally granting access to the United Nations and other foreign aid groups several days after a massive cyclone devastated their country.

That aid is desperately needed. An estimated one million people are homeless and the death toll could reach over 100,000.

Is international aid getting their in time? Watch more from World Vision's Rein Pualsen for more.

U.S. Denied Access to Myanmar

Now a massive disaster caused by nature could become even worse because of Myanmar's government.

Only now is the suspicious military junta finally cracking open its borders a bit more to let in desperately needed aid.

Four relief planes from the U.N.'s World Food Program are flying in high-energy biscuits and medical kits.

They'd sat for days waiting for clearance from the military rulers who've for years kept much of their nation cut off from the world.

Aid officials are begging the junta to concentrate on the vast humanitarian needs of their countrymen.

"Right now more than a million human beings in desperate need of assistance who aren't getting it, and that's got to be the focus of every minute, every hour right now." World Food Program Regional Director Anthony Banbury said. 

Myanmar's military regime is still not allowing U.S. military planes to fly in critical relief goods.

U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice said, "What remains is for the Burmese government to allow the international community to help its people. It should be a simple matter. This is not a matter of politics. This is a matter of a humanitarian crisis."

Relief Officials Face Huge Hurdles

Some parts of Myanmar have been completely cut off by floods and outsiders have no idea how survivors are faring in those areas.

And even as the government does start to let in aid, relief officials say their people will face huge natural hurdles and horrifying conditions.

"Basically the entire lower delta region is under water," World Food Program Regional Director Richard Horsey said. "Teams are talking about bodies floating around in the water in the areas that they are going to get relief supplies to. It's a huge, huge problem just to get these goods out."

Opponents of the regime worry that even as it does let in aid, it'll play politics with it.

This disaster could have an impact far outside Myanmar, with food prices already soaring worldwide, a huge supply of rice has been wiped out.

"A lot of domestic rice stores have been lost as a result of the cyclone, and so Myanmar which should be a rice exporter, may well need to import rice in the coming months," Branbury said.

Meanwhile the question is -- how many of Myanmar's residents who survived the cyclone will now die because aid won't reach them in time?

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Paul Strand

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