Very few foreign aid workers have reached the Irrawaddy delta to help cyclone victims, two days after an agreement was made between UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Burma’s head of state, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, to allow all aid workers access, said international aid groups.

At a press conference in Bangkok on Saturday, the UN general-secretary said, “Snr-Gen Than Shwe agreed to allow all international aid workers to operate freely and without hindrance. We agreed to establish [logistics hubs incorporating] air, sea and road links to the most affected areas.

“The Myanmar [Burmese] government appears to be moving toward the right direction … Some international aid workers and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) have already gone into the regions of the Irrawaddy delta without any problem.”

Paul Risley, a spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP) in Bangkok, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that three foreign relief workers from WFP have arrived in the cyclone-ravaged delta since Saturday and WFP were planning to deploy more to the area.

“On Saturday, WFP sent one international aid worker from Rangoon to Pyapon and Bogalay and no problems were reported, he said. “Two others traveled today to Bogalay and other places in the delta. Tomorrow, three international aid workers will travel to Laputta.”

WFP said it only had 10 international staff and 200 local staff in Rangoon before Cyclone Nargis devastated the region on May 2-3, but the UN group said it would deploy international staff to operate long-term aid projects in the stricken delta region.

A total of 22 visas have been granted to WFP international staff since the cyclone struck and there are currently 29 national staff members deployed in affected areas outside Rangoon, according to the organization.

Risley said that WFP are not experiencing problems traveling to the delta and that aid supplies had reached the hands of some cyclone survivors, though not enough.

“Last Friday, more than 500,000 cyclone victims in the Irrawaddy delta received food at least once. However, much more food needs to be provided. We want to feed people every day. Most people haven’t received any food yet,” he added.

WFP has established two sub-offices in the Irrawaddy delta-in Laputta and Bogalay-and has relocated national staff members from the north to the affected areas in the south to step up its response capacity, according to the group.

Veronique Terrasse, a communications officer for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Bangkok, said that about eight foreign workers from her organization had reached the Irrawaddy delta, although most foreign workers were still staying in Rangoon. MSF currently has 49 foreign aid workers in Burma.

Meanwhile, in Bangkok, Richard Horsey, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said “a number” of the UN’s international experts have arrived in affected areas.

“It is so important to have agreement not only on national staff traveling to the delta without problems, but international staff need to be able to travel there too,” said Horsey.”

During his visit to Burma last week, Ban stopped at Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s holiest Buddhist shrine and made a religious offering. “The United Nations and the whole international community stands ready to help you overcome this tragedy,” he said.

“That is why I am here,” added Ban. “The main purpose of my coming to Myanmar is to demonstrate my solidarity and bring a message of hope.”