June 13, 2008 / 11:45 AM / 11 years ago

Foreign doctors leave cyclone-hit Myanmar

BANGKOK, June 13 (Reuters) - Foreign doctors have started leaving cyclone-hit Myanmar as the junta has closed down many relief camps in the affected areas, a senior Thai health ministry official said on Friday.

The military government had told Thailand not to send a third batch of medics, meant to leave for Yangon on Monday, as most of the camps in the Irrawaddy delta town of Myaungmya had been closed, Surachet Satitniramai, a coordinator for the Thai team, said.

"Doctors from India, Japan and the Philippines have already left Myanmar as many camps have been closed down," he told Reuters, adding that the only doctors left at the few camps remaining in the area were all Myanmar locals.

"They said they had enough doctors to deal with the situation now and will call out for help if they need more," he said.

Cyclone Nargis hit the densely populated delta last month, killing up to 134,000 people and leaving 2.4 million destitute. Despite the magnitude of the disaster, the junta has been reluctant to admit outside aid operations.

The United Nations called Myanmar’s neighbours in Southeast Asia and other donors to give more than one million gallons of emergency diesel supplies to help farmers in the devastated delta replant rice crops before the end of July.

"The window of opportunity is very short, and the need is of the utmost urgency," U.N. official Noeleen Heyzer said.

"The planting season in the Delta is June to July, after which it will be too late — with disastrous consequences for food security in Myanmar and the region." (Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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