In one of the first official displays of grief since the cyclone pummeled swathes of this impoverished country 18 days ago, national flags in front of Yangons City Hall fluttered at half mast in the light morning rain.
But there was neither public ceremony nor moment of silence, and most people in
"We didn’t know about this news. How are we meant to show our grief for storm victims?" said Mya Mya, a 43-year-old flower seller who is sheltering in a public school after the storm destroyed her home.
Like most cyclone survivors still waiting for food, shelter and medicine, Mya Mya said she had yet to receive any emergency relief from the military government. Global pressure is mounting on the regime to do more for the storm victims, and
Separately, the United Nations top aid official John Holmes met Tuesday with
But doubts emerged over how effective any relief effort would be, since -- despite the compromise with ASEAN -- the junta has refused to allow in foreign aid workers in anything like the numbers needed, despite warnings that people could die without help.
Human Rights Watch warned that the aid effort led by ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) still fell well short of the operation needed to address victims urgent needs.
"Governments and aid agencies should not delude themselves into thinking otherwise," said Brad Adams, the groups
Meanwhile, the World Bank’s managing director, Juan Jose Daboub, said that because the junta has not been repaying its loans, the global lender "cannot legally provide any resources to
"At this time we are not in a position of providing resources to
The United Nations estimates that only 500,000 of the 2.4 million affected by the storm are currently receiving aid. It has embarked on a top-level diplomatic effort to open the door to more aid, especially into the hardest-hit southern delta region, and Holmes visit is part of that push.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who had earlier failed to get reclusive junta leader Than Shwe even to take his telephone calls, was set to visit the hardest-hit regions of
Analysts believe the ASEAN deal, which will also see teams of Asian medics from nine countries travel to
A Western diplomat in Yangon said the regime was taking its cue from close ally
"It is possible that there was Chinese pressure," the diplomat said.
"The fact that the junta has declared three days of mourning now, whereas the cyclone took place more than two weeks ago, is very significant."
Than Shwe spent a second consecutive day Monday touring the disaster zone, venturing into the hardest-hit regions of the delta for the first time, state television reported.
On Tuesday he announced on state media that the government would build new schools for children orphaned by the cyclone.
Until Sunday, the senior general had not made a public appearance or remark about the disaster.