The first aid flight to leave the UK for Burma departed from East Midlands Airport on May 14, twelve days after the country was destroyed by a cyclone. Chartered by Shelterbox, a Cornwall-based disaster relief charity, the organisation is one of a handful of agencies to have received permission from the Burmese government to take aid to the devastated country.
The aid flight landed in Yangon, the nation’s capital, on Thursday May 15, where it joined other British charities to have left overseas locations. It carried 1000 aid packages, each containing a ten-person tent, sleeping mats, mosquito netting, a stove, tools and water purifying tablets, with the aim of giving relief to thousands of survivors.
It is estimated that more than 200,000 Burmese citizens died in the cyclone, which hit Burma in the early hours of May 3, but the UN say that around one and a half million people are homeless, with hundreds of thousands in a critical condition due to lack of aid and the spread of disease (although the Burmese state media is reporting a figure only a fraction of UN estimates).
Since the cyclone hit, the Disasters Emergency Committee Cyclone Appeal has raised in excess of £6 million and more than forty aid flights have landed in Burma, but most have been prevented from distributing their aid due to strict check points controlled by the country’s military forces. Gordon Brown has called for an emergency summit saying that, although some relief is now being let through, the actions of the Burmese authorities are still "not good enough".