JUDY WOODRUFF: How significant is it, though, Eric Stover, that they still won't allow military vessels to get close, that they're talking about, yes, commercial vessels and, yes, air flights, but not the military?
ERIC STOVER: My understanding is that there are French and U.S. ships off the coast and that, in fact, the U.S. government has proposed to the Burmese government that they're welcome to send officials to fly with helicopters to take in that aid.
So that would be a further welcome development, if they would agree to do that.
It should be pointed out, last week when I was in Bangkok, it was announced by the World Food Programme that there's a need for 375 tons a day of rice to get in, yet they were only able to get in about 200 tons last week. So there's still a real need here.
Also, Burma is in a permanent human rights crisis. And it has been for the last -- I'm sorry, public health crisis, for the last two or three decades. And we need to deal with the underlying problems and the inability of the government to respond to a disaster quickly. This has to be taken up in the future.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Ned Olney, is there any way to know what difference it would have made if all the aid that was available could have gotten in, all the way in, right away, after the cyclone hit?
NED OLNEY: It's difficult to tell. I think where we would have liked to be now, where we would like to have been is to have a much more robust logistical capacity, to have those specialists, highly trained emergency response staff in there on day one.
We're about saving lives now. And we were about saving lives in the first day. And we had staff on the ground. We had 500 staff in Burma before the cyclone hit.
We've had really capable staff saving lives, and what we've done is increase that capacity. Because we were having a restricted flow of expat staff come from outside of the country, we've adapted our approach and have hired local staff who know how to work within the system.
I've got to tell you...
JUDY WOODRUFF: So you worked around the restrictions?
NED OLNEY: We worked around the restrictions. And different organizations have had different levels of access.
I should tell you that yesterday Save the Children trucks were in a convoy with United Nations trucks. And they were stopped, as we were moving out to the Irrawaddy Delta.
The United Nations trucks were stopped, and the Save the Children trucks were waved through. So that different levels of comfort with different organizations.
So I think that when the public hears, "No aid is getting through, limited aid is getting through," they think there's a more complex story there, and the organizations who have the history, the knowledge of working have been able to provide assistance.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But going forward now, those U.N. trucks are going to be allowed through?
NED OLNEY: We hope so.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Eric Stover, what more needs to be done? You were there when the cyclone hit, immediately after. What more needs to be done right now?
ERIC STOVER: Well, first of all, I think it's important to point out for the organizations like Save the Children, and the United Nations, and international aid groups that are in the country, they're between a rock and a hard place, because they cannot speak out when they're prevented from providing aid. If they do, they could be expelled from the country.
Indeed, the U.N. representative to Burma, Charles Petrie, was expelled at the beginning of this year for making comments which were critical of the government, or perceived to be.
So what we need to see now is an openness, a transparency, an accountability. We need to see that that aid is getting to those most in need. It can't just be the aid that's provided and they're doing a good job at doing that, by NGOs, the smaller organizations. But it has to be a full force by the United Nations.
And we also have to be...
JUDY WOODRUFF: Go ahead and finish your thought.
ERIC STOVER: ... yes, was simply to say that what happened to farmers in the delta is they were planning for their monsoon rain season planting of rice. And their supplies, their fertilizer were swept away.
And so now we need to ensure that that planting takes place, that there's reconstruction efforts, and that there's an alleviation of disease, which is going to be, frankly, the second wave that's hitting us now.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Eric Stover and Ned Olney, thank you both very, very much.NED OLNEY: Thank you.