Aid Finally Allowed Into Myanmar

A group of homeless Myanmar cyclone survivors look on at a monastery, being used as a temporary shelter, on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, Wednesday, May 21, 2008. Myanmar will not allow U.S. naval ships and helicopters poised off its shore to deliver aid to cyclone victims, according to state-controlled media Wednesday which cited fears of an American invasion aimed at grabbing the country's oil reserves. (AP Photo)
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
No one really knows how many people died in the Myanmar cyclone, but it's pretty clear that there are several million now homeless and desperate for food and shelter.

The military dictators who run Myanmar have allowed but a trickle of aid into their country. Faced with the decision of keeping an iron grip on their citizens or saving lives the Junta chose the former. Yes tent cities and relief centers have opened, but reports from the scene tell us they are little more than props in the Junta's propaganda campaign.

The generals, it seems have been preoccupied with holding an election that will cement their hold on power. Then along comes Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the U.N. He arrived in Burma only to be criticized for appearing with the generals and for being used by them in photo ops.

But word came today that the generals will finally allow aid workers from all countries into Myanmar. We'll believe it when we see it, but it sure looks like it was worth the risk.
By Harry Smith