HLINETHAYA RELIEF CAMP, Myanmar The 68 blue tents are lined up in a row, with a new water purifier and boxes of relief supplies, stacked neatly but as yet undelivered and not even opened. "If you don't keep clean, you'll be expelled from here," a camp manager barked at families in some tents.
The moment, at what has been billed as a model camp for survivors of Cyclone Nargis, captured a common complaint among refugees and aid volunteers: that the military junta that rules Myanmar cares more about the appearance of providing aid than actually providing it.
As a result of international pressure, the junta has embarked on a campaign to show itself as responsive and open to aid as China has been in the wake of the recent Sichuan earthquake. On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Myanmar as U.N. officials said that, nearly three weeks after the cyclone that left 134,000 dead or missing, they were finally seeing some small improvement.
The first 10 helicopters loaded with supplies from the World Food Program arrived Thursday. But of the 2.4 million survivors, U.N. officials say, only 500,000 have received any aid to date.
Ban received guided tours of apparently well-run government camps like this one, presenting one vision of the junta's response to its people and the outside world. But interviews with survivors and people of Myanmar breaking rules to help them suggest a different story: of a government that seems to have assisted little.
This relief camp in the western outskirts of Yangon made headlines in Myanmar's state-run press when the junta's leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, showed up there on Sunday to inspect the relief effort.
A few days after that inspection, the camp's tidy blue tents were still set up, but many of the bottles of cooking oil inside them remained in their boxes. Pots and pans still bore their brand-name stickers.
A short ride down a potholed road, a striking divide is evident, one between the model relief camp and the continuing plight of many victims.
In the village of Ar Pyin Padan, a few minutes' walk from here, 40 families who lost nearly everything crowded a rundown school.
Here, deliveries of relief supplies are so infrequent that the refugees say they draw lots to get a small share whenever a donation arrives.