Aid agencies are furious over the Myanmar government's refusal to let them distribute food and supplies flown in for victims of the cyclone that is estimated to have killed up to 100,000 people.
The ruling military junta has been allowing planes to land, but is refusing to let the cargo be distributed by most foreign aid workers, especially those from Western nations.
The United Nations issued a "flash appeal" Friday to raise $187.3 million in cyclone relief for Myanmar-based assessments by more than 20 organizations. It includes $56 million for food, nearly $50 million for logistics and about $20 million for shelter.
The Asia head of the U.N. World Food Program said Friday that the government had seized the contents of two flights that arrived in the morning at Yangon which carried enough food for 95,000 people. They contained 38 tons of high-energy biscuits, medical kits and other items
"We off-loaded the food, and then the authorities refused us permission to take that food away," WFP director Tony Banbury said.
"We were told we needed a special letter from the Minister of Social Welfare. We hand-delivered a request to him. The answer back was 'No, you can't have the food.'
"That food is now sitting on the tarmac doing no good. I'm furious. This is unacceptable."
In response, the U.N. temporarily suspended its emergency airlifts.
However, the WFP -- which under U.N. rules must control and distribute its aid supplies -- said later that it would try to send more aid on Saturday.
"The World Food Program has decided to send in two relief flights as planned tomorrow, while discussions continue with the government of Myanmar," spokeswoman Nancy Roman said.
Despite earlier reservations, Myanmar has now agreed to allow one American cargo aircraft to land with relief supplies on Monday, White House Deputy Press secretary Gordon Johndroe said Friday.
The United States had earlier proposed an aid plan that would minimize the presence of American troops on the ground, with the planes to drop supplies off and then turn around and leave.
The U.S. is also proposing that its Navy helicopters already in Thailand and onboard Navy ships in the region fly supplies to remote areas. The helicopters would conduct low-level flights and air-drop the supplies but not touch the ground.
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