Monday, May 19, 2008

[BurmaSolidarity] Red tape continues to tie up aid to cyclone-stricken Myanmar

from: Salong
date: Sun, May 18, 2008 at 7:13 PM
subject: [BurmaSolidarity] Red tape continues to tie up aid to cyclone-stricken Myanmar

News Headlines

1. Red tape continues to tie up aid to cyclone-stricken Myanmar

2. As cyclone refugees wait, Myanmar refuses aid

3. UN's top disaster official headed to Myanmar

4. News Minute: Dire Myanmar warning...Bush in Egypt...Kennedy hospitalized

5. Bangkok's old airport to be center for WFP aid to Myanmar

6. Turning point near on Myanmar aid - UK minister

Red tape continues to tie up aid to cyclone-stricken Myanmar

Posted : Sun, 18 May 2008 09:43:00 GMT
Author : DPA
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Yangon- Relief supplies continued to arrive at Yangon's international airport for people in the Irrawaddy delta region hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis early this month but red tape also continued to slow the arrival of much more urgently needed aid, officials said. Japanese officials donated water tanks, generators, tents and other supplies worth 380,000 dollars on Sunday, taking their total aid for cyclone relief to nearly 1 million dollars, the Japanese embassy in Yangon said. Japan's Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Hitoshi Kimura presented the supplies from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the airport. With growing concern how the foreign supplies are being used the junta took about 60 UN officials and foreign diplomats to the delta to examine relief efforts via helicopter Saturday, but they saw only a small part of the region which is about the same size as Austria or Japan's Hokkaido island. Some supplies are getting through but trained emergency workers, including doctors, who have experience in emergency situations are finding it more difficult to get in. Thailand, which shares a long border with Myanmar and like its neighbour is a member of the 10-nation Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), sent 30 medical staff to the cyclone-stricken country Saturday. They are part of 100 medical staff from Asian countries allowed into Myanmar to assist in relief efforts. Thailand's C-130 military aircraft departure was delayed more than four hours waiting for clearance from Myanmar authorities. The delay was "due to strict entry procedures imposed by the military junta," the government-run Thai News Agency reported. The medical teams are expected to stay in Myanmar until May 31, said Dr. Surachet Stitniramai, director of Thailand's Public Health Ministry's Narenthorn Center. They will be allowed in the outskirts of Yangon and not in the delta region hardest hit by the cyclone that came ashore May 2-3, Thai officials said. A French warship with 1,500 tons of relief supplies, including medicine and food, continued to wait in international waters off the coast. There was still no official word Sunday if Myanmar authorities would allow it to deliver the supplies. The government's official death toll from Cyclone Nargis Sunday stood at the same as late Friday with 78,000 dead and an additional 56,000 missing, state-run television reported. Relief groups put the death toll from the cyclone at more than 100,000. They also have said an additional more than 2 million are at risk from starvation and disease if relief does not arrive soon.

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As cyclone refugees wait, Myanmar refuses aid

Associated Press - May 18, 2008 5:23 AM ET

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - An aid agency is warning that thousands of children in Myanmar will starve to death within two to three weeks if they don't get food quickly.

It's been more than two week's since the Southeast Asian nation suffered a devastating cyclone.

Save the Children fears "many children in the affected areas are now suffering from severe acute malnourishment." The agency says that's the most serious form of hunger.

An increasingly angry international community is pleading with Myanmar's military rulers to approve an all-out effort to help survivors. The generals have refused to take phone calls from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (bahn kee-moon). They haven't answered two letters he's sent. And today, he's sending the U.N.'s humanitarian chief there to try to find out what's going on.

The Myanmar regime insists it's handling the calamity, which by its own estimate has killed 78,000 people, with tens of thousands more missing. But this weekend, it's prevented a French navy ship loaded with supplies from unloading.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown is calling the Myanmar government's response "inhuman."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


UN's top disaster official headed to Myanmar

18 May 2008

YANGON - The UN's top disaster official headed Sunday to Myanmar, where the government is under mounting pressure to accept a full-scale relief operation for desperate cyclone survivors in need of immediate aid.

The secretive military rulers have let more foreign experts into the country in recent days to help the estimated two million survivors who do not have enough food, water or shelter more than two weeks after the storm struck.

But with emergency relief coordinator John Holmes due to arrive late Sunday, a UN report said needs were still critical, while British aid group Save the Children said thousands of children could starve to death within weeks.

"We are extremely worried that many children in the affected areas are now suffering from severe acute malnourishment, the most serious level of hunger," said Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK.

"When people reach this stage, they can die in a matter of days. Children may already be dying as a result of a lack of food."

Despite thousands of tonnes of aid being flown in, relief groups want fuller access to help supervise relief in the aftermath of the May 2-3 storm, which the government says left nearly 134,000 people dead or missing.

"Unofficial figures are considerably higher," the internal UN report said. "Food, shelter, medical supplies and water remain critical needs."

The international community has been toughening the rhetoric on the country's military rulers, who are deeply suspicious of the outside world and have limited access to foreigners with expertise in managing disaster zones.

South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have both raised the spectre of crimes against humanity by the junta over its handling of the catastrophe.

Despite the government's insistence that the relief effort is going well, witnesses who managed to sneak through the security cordon around the hard-hit Irrawaddy Delta said the situation remained dire.

"It was horrible beyond description," said a foreign businessman, one of about a dozen eyewitnesses interviewed by AFP.

"Most of the devastated huts looked like they were empty at first glance. But there were actually survivors inside," he said.

"One hut with no roof was full of about 100 people, crouching in the rain. There was no food and no water. Each person had nothing more than the clothes on their bodies, shivering in the cold."

The junta has continued to insist it can handle most of the relief operation by itself, and state media are full of photos of smiling and grateful citizens receiving aid supplies from generals.

The junta's English-language newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar, on Sunday carried more than two dozen stories praising the regime's relief efforts.

Aid agencies are hoping that Holmes will have some sway on the generals, who keep an iron grip one of the poorest and most isolated nations on the planet.

Amanda Pitt, regional spokeswoman for the UN's disaster relief arm headed by Holmes, said he would go straight from New York to Myanmar's main city Yangon, where he would spend "a few days" trying to get a picture of the situation.

She said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had "asked him to travel to the region to better assist the survivors and help the government of Myanmar scale up the response to the crisis."

She had no information on which areas Holmes would be able to visit, or if he would have access to the top junta leadership.

Wary of any foreign influence that could weaken its 46 years of iron rule in Myanmar, the military has insisted on managing the relief operation itself and kept most international disaster experts away.

But aid groups say the government cannot possibly handle the tragedy alone, with hundreds of tonnes of supplies and high-tech equipment piling up in warehouses, bottle-necked by logistics and other problems.

As pressure mounts on Myanmar's allies to use their clout with the regime, Southeast Asian foreign ministers will meet in Singapore on Monday for talks on how to deal with their neighbour.


News Minute: Dire Myanmar warning...Bush in Egypt...Kennedy hospitalized
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Associated Press - May 18, 2008 5:03 AM ET

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - The Save-the-Children aid agency is warning that thousands of children who survived Myanmar's cyclone will starve to death in the coming weeks unless food is rushed to them. More than two weeks after the cyclone struck, an increasingly angry international community is pleading with the country's military regime to approve an all-out relief effort.

BEIJING (AP) - The World Health Organization claims China's earthquake zone is ripe for outbreaks of disease. The U.N. agency says quick action is needed to get clean water to millions of survivors. Meanwhile, the Chinese rescue effort continues. One man was pulled out alive today after spending 139 hours buried in rubble.

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (AP) - President Bush is urging Mideast leaders to work hard to advance democracy and civil liberties in their region. Bush delivers that message in Egypt today during a speech at the World Economic Forum in the Middle East.

(AP) - Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be on the campaign trail today ahead Tuesday's next round of Democratic primaries in Oregon and Kentucky. Obama is inching closer to the Democratic nod, picking up more delegates in Nevada, Kansas and Maryland.

BOSTON (AP) - Ted Kennedy is still in the hospital following a seizure yesterday at his Cape Cod home. Doctors say the 76-year-old Massachusetts senator did not suffer a stroke. He'll undergo more tests while they determine what did cause the problem.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Bangkok's old airport to be center for WFP aid to Myanmar 2008-05-18 17:21:15 Print

BANGKOK, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama said Sunday that the Thai government has agreed to a U.N. proposal to make Bangkok's old Don Mueang airport a center for accepting the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) humanitarian aid to Myanmar cyclone victims.

Noppadon said here that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had telephoned him and discussed ways to help the Myanmar survivors, and proposed that Thailand, as Myanmar's neighbor, is an ideal collection and transhipment point for aid donated by the WFP, Thai News Agency reported.

A U.N. representative has already visited warehouses at the DonMueang airport, the former Bangkok International Airport in northern Bangkok suburb, now mainly used for domestic flights after the new airport opened in September, 2006. He found that several warehouses there are still empty which could store aid supplies.

Noppadon said he had informed Thai Prime Minister and Defense Minister Samak Sundaravej of the U.N. proposal, and that Samak had approved the move.

The idea of using Don Mueang airport for storing WFP aid for Myanmar victims after Cyclone Nargis hit the country on May 3, came after some international relief agencies complained that Myanmar government refused to accept full humanitarian aid and assistance from donor agencies, the report said.

Foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) will confer on ways to assist and rehabilitate Myanmar next Saturday in Singapore, said Noppadon, adding that he would also urge more medics from ASEAN countries to be dispatched to Myanmar.

The ASEAN groups 10 countries -- Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines.

Thailand will also host a meeting on the current situation in Myanmar Saturday at the U.N. conference center here, said Noppadon. Thirty countries, including Myanmar, have accepted the invitation.

Participating countries are expected to urge ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan to travel to Myanmar and assess damages from the cyclone, he said.

Myanmar's death toll from the cyclone now stands at about 78,000, according to figures released by Myanmar state media, with 56,000 people still missing.

Editor: Amber Yao


Turning point near on Myanmar aid - UK minister

18 May 2008 09:14:19 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds details, quotes)

YANGON, May 18 (Reuters) - A turning point in the effort to get Myanmar to open up more widely to major foreign aid operations could be near, Britain's Asia minister, Mark Malloch-Brown, said on Sunday.

International pressure has been intensifying on Myanmar's military rulers to allow more foreign aid workers and relief efforts after a May 2 cyclone that left an estimated 2.5 million people destitute.

Malloch-Brown said an agreement was in the works for a U.N. and Asian-led operation that could solve the impasse.

"I think we're potentially at a turning point, but like all turning points in Burma, the corner will have a few S bends in it," he told Reuters in an interview.

"I'm confident we've got movement here in the sense we've diplomatically found an answer to the stand-off."

Malloch-Brown said the United Nations estimates that so far help has reached less than 25 percent of the people in need.

"It's incredibly late in the day. I'd have liked to be where we are today two weeks ago," he said.

"You've got a Burmese government that's deeply suspicious, engrained over years, of outsiders."

Malloch-Brown described a framework that has begun with Asian nations Myanmar considers friendly already sending aid teams into the country, and an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) assessment team already on the ground as well.

That team is due to report to a meeting of foreign ministers from ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, in Singapore on Monday.

U.N. chief humanitarian officer John Holmes was due in Yangon on Sunday evening to meet junta officials.

These would be steps along the way to an Asian-U.N. led operation into which other countries would channel their efforts.

"We can be relieved today two weeks after the cyclone that there's finally emerging a model of cooperation that could work," Malloch-Brown said.

He was speaking after meetings with Myanmar welfare and health ministers and a senior foreign ministry official, and still had at least one meeting with a minister to go before leaving Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon.

Despite his optimism about a possible breakthrough on aid and access, Malloch-Brown said that because of Myanmar's suspicious of the outside, operations were still unlikely to involve foreign aid worker numbers comparable to other recent disasters in Asia.

The reluctance of the Myanmar military, which has ruled for the last 46 years, to allow an influx of foreign aid workers appears to stem from fear that might loosen its vice-like grip on power.

The official toll from the cyclone disaster stands at 77,738 dead and 55,917 missing, with some independent estimates ranging far higher. (Writing by Jerry Norton; Editing by David Fox) (For more stories on Myanmar cyclone click on [nSP152717] or follow the link to Reuters AlertNet http:/


Mr. Salong
News Desk
Shwe Gas Movement- India

Ph: +91-9899138581

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