Myanmar (MNN) — The commander of U.S. naval operations in the Pacific Ocean, Admiral Tim Keating, says U.S. Navy (USN) ships off the coast of Myanmar now waiting to deliver aid to cyclone victims might soon depart. He says if the Myanmar government refuses to give the USN permission to deliver food, shelter and medical treatment to victims of the 2 May cyclone, the four ships currently on standby will have to abandon their relief efforts.
They're not the only ones wanting to help. Mission Aviation Fellowship's Manager of Disaster Response, John Woodberry, is in Bangkok, Thailand, and says MAF is also waiting to help. "We've have a great desire to help after the cyclone hit a month ago now, and we've been working for about that long to get permissions to bring our float plane in from Bangladesh. The float plane did an awesome job when Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh this last winter."
Last week, MNN reported Myanmar was allowing groups to access to the region. According to Woodberry, that information is true. "Some agencies that had projects (pre-existing) in Myanmar are having a little better success. People have been contained to the Yangon area, and slowly through partners in the local churches, some of the Christian agencies have been able to help in the Delta."
MAF has expertise in emergency relief. "We can help agencies that are there get in and out quickly. In a 40-minute flight, we can save people a day or two days of travel time. [We can] get in and [quickly] assess by finding out where the urgent needs are and start these projects immediately."
MAF has helped earthquakes, cyclone relief, flood relief and even war zone relief over the years.
Woodberry is simply asking Christians to pray that Myanmar would give MAF permission to help because the situation is urgent. People are dying. "You can pray for the people of the Irrawaddy delta region. Those who have died have died due to hunger, disease and other issues. And I guess you can pray for the people in the Delta region, the southern area of Myanmar, that they could get help by any means possible."
While MAF can't control the situation, Woodberry says the team is standing by. "We just want to help and love people and do the work God has given us to do. God's the one who works in people's lives and hearts, and there [are] battles going on behind the scenes that we can't see. Someday we'll know in heaven. Our job is to be faithful."
Reports indicate up to 130,000 people have either died or are still missing since the cyclone hit May 2.