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Myanmar Officials Reject Calls to Let In Aid Workers

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

An NPR reporter has reached Myanmar, and that's a country closed and hostile to most outsiders. He joins us now. And first of all, tell us what you are seeing there on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED NPR REPORTER: And there are many people who are still coming across the Irrawaddy in boats carrying what few possessions they have left. These are victims of last Saturday's storm and they just have nothing left, so they're coming here and sort of melting into the population here.

MONTAGNE: And people are in pretty bad shape there. Why won't the government of Myanmar allow the U.S. into the country to help?

NPR REPORTER: I mean, there are international agencies that have people on the ground that have had a presence here for years. And those people are working on the ground and they're distributing aid and they're getting very good cooperation from local officials and provincial officials, they say. But it's the national government that's holding things up. And it's the national government that looks like it's going to continue to hold things up indefinitely.

MONTAGNE: Given that the government is resisting, there's talk about what the international community could be doing or should be doing. What options are available?

NPR REPORTER: And that begs the question, will they decide that they just won't accept these conditions and decide to do something on their own? I mean, I've been sort of incommunicado here for a little bit, but earlier this week the French government was thinking out loud, I think, about taking action, not waiting for the Myanmar government to say that these people were going to be allowed in to help distribute this aid, just taking action on its own or in conjunction with the international community and the time to do that may, in fact, be at hand, some of these governments might think.

MONTAGNE: What do you expect, from what you know and have seen there, might be next?

NPR REPORTER: That referendum has been delayed in some of these affected areas, but it's going ahead elsewhere in the country. That's tomorrow. And maybe we'll see a little give from the Myanmar government side after that. I wouldn't bet on it, but it's a possibility.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much.

NPR REPORTER: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: And we've been talking to an NPR reporter who is in Myanmar. We're not identifying him because the press are not welcome in that country and for his own protection. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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