Relief supplies appropriated by officials in Bogalay

May 13, 2008 (DVB), Cyclone victims in Bogalay have been unable to access aid supplies sent in to the area as they have been taken by government supporters and are being sold to those in need.

A resident of Bogalay said the areas below the town had been hit particularly badly.

"Although there was not a high death toll in Bogalay, some villages in the areas below Bogalay were wiped out and we saw none of the people again," he said.

"Out of 30 relatives, only one or two survived. They are in refugee camps."

The resident said that no support had come from the government, and locals were forced to rely on charity from small NGOs and local donors, including rice donated to monasteries.

Government officials have provided some materials, but only exchange for payment to be collected at a later date, the resident said.

"Senior officials are in town now and they are selling tin sheets on the streets," he said.

"They are selling them by means of a debt system. They don't have to pay yet. They are also collecting 360 [kyat per household] in labour costs," he said.

"The sheets are not reaching the refugees. They are dropping tin sheets outside houses that have no roofs, and the money will be collected later."

The resident said foreign aid supplies had been appropriated by government supporters who were selling them in Bogalay.

"I want to state clearly that the aid given by foreign countries has not reached the public and refugees," the resident said.

"Plastic sheets and medicines have not reached the victims either, they are being sold outside," he said.

"The sheets are being sold by soldiers and members of Swann Arr Shin and the Union Solidarity and Development Association."

Diseases are prevalent among the survivors, and are being exacerbated by the unsanitary living conditions, the resident said.

"Cholera and dysentery are occurring; 14 people have died, 7 instantly," he said.

"There are about 800-1000 people taking refuge in each monastery. There is one doctor for them from the Health Department but some monasteries have none, and there are no other health measures," he went on.

"There is no toilet. And as there is no roof in monasteries, they are living under the rain now."

Reporting by DVB

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