Government sells food to disaster victims

May 7, 2008 (DVB)-Residents of the former Burmese capital Rangoon said the government is selling food to victims of Cyclone Nargis, but the prices remain too expensive for destitute survivors to afford.

Rangoon authorities made announcements on the streets over loudspeakers that the government was selling food for disaster victims at the city’s tax-free markets, a local resident said.

"The announcement also said rice priced at 750 kyat for one pyi, cooking oil at 2240 kyat per viss and zinc sheets [for roofing] at 4500 per sheet were now available to buy at the township Peace and Development Council offices in Rangoon," he said.

But for local residents who have been made destitute by the natural disaster, the provisions remain prohibitively expensive.

"Despite the government’s effort to help us by selling these materials at cheap prices, we can only sit back and watch as we have no money at all to buy these things as we are only daily-paid workers," the resident said.

"Now all the businesses have collapsed and we are left empty-handed."

Rangoon residents are suffering shortages of food, water and electricity, and blocked roads are making it difficult for aid to get through.

Cyclone survivors have complained that the government has not provided assistance to victims as they search for loved ones and try to rebuild their homes.

The Burmese government has said it would welcome international aid, but the lack of infrastructure and delays in visa processes have meant that relief efforts are moving slowly.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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