Local Christian water charity's aid blocked by government
A dozen water purification systems from a local Christian charity were bound for cyclone-ravaged Myanmar until word came that the military government had blocked international aid.
"It's very strange and it's sad for us," said Jerry Miner, vice president of disaster relief for Water Missions International. Nevertheless, WMI pressed forward with its plans. "I think that everybody is going under the assumption that this is a temporary block.
Discussions continued Friday between the junta and relief agencies, Miner said, and there were indications that the relief-worker ban would be lifted Tuesday. If that's the case, two WMI specialists will accompany the purification equipment on a flight arranged by Samaritan's Purse, he said.
WMI engineers Pat Haughney and Andre Merganthaler will set up the water-cleansing technology in Myanmar, he said. The systems, $15,000 each, process up to 10,000 gallons per day or enough to support a community of up to 3,000 people. By the end of next week, at least 40 systems will be ready for delivery, Miner said.
The junta said in a statement Friday it was grateful to the international community for its assistance — 11 chartered planes loaded with aid supplies — but the best way to help was just to send in material rather than personnel. It seized U.N. aid shipments Friday, The Associated Press reported.
"People are on the ground in Myanmar. The government is not letting them do anything. I have no idea how this plays out politically," Miner said.
There are more than 1 million homeless people in Myanmar because of the storm, AP reported.
WMI is a nonprofit Christian engineering organization that so far has deployed 538 water systems in 35 countries worldwide, making safe water available to more than 1 million people. It works with Samaritan's Purse, Operation Blessing and World Vision to coordinate delivery of its systems.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.