Citizens' groups lead Myanmar aid efforts

June 21, 2008 at 1:38 PM
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YANGON, Myanmar, June 21 (UPI) -- Ad hoc citizens' groups are stepping in to deliver humanitarian relief in typhoon-ravaged Myanmar, sources tell The Washington Post.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed doctors, editors and other residents of Yangon, says that in the absence of foreign relief workers -- barred from the country by Myanmar's xenophobic ruling military junta – homegrown, apolitical organizations sprung up to distribute aid in the devastated Irrawaddy Delta region.

The groups, organized mostly among members of professions, have defied roadblocks and bureaucratic restrictions to aid the estimated 2.4 million people still suffering the effects of the May 2 typhoon, which is believed to have killed 134,000 people in Myanmar.

The Post quoted an unidentified doctor who said after the cyclone he closed his private medical clinic for twice-weekly trips to the Irrawaddy Delta with other doctors, where local officials shoo away desperate children, many of whom have been orphaned or are suffering storm-related trauma.

In another instance, the newspaper said, local Yangon jewelers loaded 100 bags of rice, tarps and blankets onto a donated truck and set off at midnight one night for the hard-hit town of Labutta.

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