YANGON, Myanmar - United Nations officials expressed hope again yesterday that they will soon be able to get help to more than 1 million cyclone survivors still waiting for food and shelter, if Myanmar's ruling junta keeps its promise to let foreign-aid workers into the country.
More than three weeks after the storm, people huddled along roadsides, desperate for any sort of handout. The U.N. estimated less than half the 2.4 million people victimized by the May 2-3 storm have received emergency assistance.
In Pyapon, a coastal township southwest of Yangon, hundreds of makeshift huts had been thrown up along a road. Women and children squatted outside, the children begging for food, their arms outstretched as vehicles passed.
The area can be reached fairly easily, but the survivors said they had not received any aid from Myanmar's military government and were surviving on donations from private citizens and Buddhist monks.
Myanmar authorities have been driving up and down the road since last week telling people by loudspeaker to go home. But Aye Shwe said the land on which his house stands, in a nearby paddy field, remained waist deep in water.
Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian operation in Bangkok, Thailand, said assistance could start flowing to those who need it most in the next few days if the junta quickly allows foreign experts into devastated areas.
The isolationist government has barred nearly all foreign aid workers and international relief agencies from the hard-hit Irrawaddy River delta since Cyclone Nargis hit. *