'Turn Around and Go Back to Yangon'

The following dispatch was written for ABC News by a journalist who has been inside Myanmar. Out of concern for the reporter's safety, we are not revealing the reporter's name.

"No, no, no," says the military guard. He is sitting next to a roadblock with five other soldiers at his side. "You cannot go there. Foreigners cannot go there."

He looks at me, shakes his head and gestures at the road on the other side of the barricade. "You must have permission to go. Turn around and go back to Yangon."

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was hammered by Cylone Nargis some five weeks ago. The reclusive junta that governs this impoverished nation has been criticized by the international community for not doing more to help its own people recover.

More than 134,000 people are estimated to have perished in the storm, and there are, aid groups say, close to 2 million survivors.

The vast majority of these refugees are located in an area of the country where outsiders not attached to aid groups and foreign journalists are expressly forbidden.

More than a month after the cyclone struck, the government is still not allowing full access to international aid groups trying to bring supplies to those whose lives are still threatened.

Human rights groups say more and more of Myanmar's desperate citizens are now receiving aid, but that the plight of many has been met with a slow response from the junta.

The newest estimates suggest that as many as 35,000 pregnant women are at risk, and early estimates show that up to 40 percent of the storm's victims are children. And yet, despite an outpouring of aid from nations around the world, relief workers must battle mountains of red tape.

This roadblock illustrates the core problem: The government is wary of outside influences. Even traveling as a tourist, my appearance as a Westerner has doomed my attempts to move freely in Myanmar.

I am trying to get from Yangon, the nation's largest city, to the delta region in the south, home to the most serious suffering.

Earlier in the day, I asked several travel agencies if they could help me book passage to the affected region. But nervous Burmese travel agents tried to steer me toward more traditional sights in the north of the country before finally admitting that foreigners aren't permitted to venture to the south.

"I am sorry, I cannot help you," said one. "If you try to go on your own, there's nothing I can do for you."

Next I try crossing the Yangon River on my own, which is the gateway to the delta region. But when I get to Yangon's port, a public ferry official tells me that I can't board the boat because I'm an outsider.

Then I try chartering a smaller, private boat farther down the river. The captain agrees to take me, but then, as I approach his boat, a police officer appears and blocks my path, telling me to turn back. The officer says I must receive permission from the police headquarters nearby.

So I walk down the road to inquire there. But I am rebuffed once again.

In broken English, the police -- whose well-maintained headquarters stand in stark contrast to the rundown residential buildings elsewhere in the city -- explain to me that because I'm not traveling with an aid group, I cannot go.

"But I'm just a tourist, and I want to see what's on the other side of the river," I say. The officer's reply, which he repeats several times while leveling his steady gaze at me: "No."

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