Saturday, May 31, 2008

Let them eat frogs



“ဇာတိမာန္ကို ေမြးၾက၊ ျပည္တြင္းျဖစ္ကို အားေပးၾက”
Photo: The Irrawaddy Internet Magazine


Rangoon - The military junta began evicting destitute families from cyclone relief centres on Friday and rejected foreign food aid - because people can survive perfectly well by hunting "large, edible frogs."

The New Light of Myanmar "newspaper", a government mouthpiece, also warned that foreign relief workers would snoop inside homes, and condemned donors for linking aid money to full access to the hardest-hit regions in the Irrawaddy Delta.

The tirade came as the junta tightened its political grip on the country, extending democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest and announcing that its new constitution has been enacted.

The regime says the charter will pave the way for democratic elections in two years, but dissidents say it will enshrine military rule in a country ruled by generals since 1962.

"It is better that they move to their homes where they are more stable," a government official said at one camp where people had been told to clear out at short notice. "Here, they are relying on donations and it is not stable."

Locals and aid workers said 39 camps in the immediate vicinity of Kyauktan, 30km south of Rangoon, were being cleared as part of a general eviction plan.

"We knew we had to go at some point but we had hoped for more support," 21-year-old trishaw driver Kyaw Moe Thu said as he trudged out of the camp with his five brothers and sisters.

They had been given 20 bamboo poles and some tarpaulins to help rebuild their lives in the Irrawaddy delta, where 134,000 people were left dead or missing by Cyclone Nargis on May 2.

"Right now, we are disappointed," Kyaw Moe Thu said. "We were promised 30 poles by the government. They told us we will get rice each month, but right now we have nothing."

Why would they want rice? wondered the military regime.

After several days of praising the work of the United Nations and charities, the regime's official newspaper renewed its attacks on foreign aid and insisted Burmese could survive without outside help.

"The government and the people are like parents and children," the paper said. "We, all the people, were pleased with the efforts of the government."

"Myanmar (Burmese) people are capable enough of rising from such natural disasters even if they are not provided with international assistance," the newspaper said.

"Myanmar people can easily get fish for dishes by just fishing in the fields and ditches," the paper said. "In the early monsoon, large edible frogs are abundant."

"The people (of the Irrawaddy delta) can survive with self-reliant efforts even if they are not given chocolate bars from (the) international community," it added.

No aid agencies are known to have provided chocolate bars to victims of Cyclone Nargis.

The United Nations estimates that about one million people in the delta are still without emergency aid. (Agencies)

Friday, May 30, 2008

“သိပ္လည္း စိတ္ပူမေနပါနဲ႔ကြာ ... မသာစရိတ္ကို တို႔လည္းမွ်ခံမွာပါ ...”






Photo: The Irrawaddy Internet Magazine





Iron Grip in the Cyclone

By May Ng


Cyclone Nargis struck Burma almost four weeks ago and it is already too late for some survivors who have died from lack of emergency aid. As the monsoon season approaches, the United Nations' relief experts are calling it a race against time to save the remaining cyclone victims in the hardest hit areas of Irrawaddy delta. But until a few days ago the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-ASEAN were not able to convince the military in Burma to open up the country for a full fledge humanitarian rescue mission.

On May 25th the United Nations and the ASEAN launched a flash appeal to raise funds for the Cyclone victims in Burma. Fifty one countries pledged sixty percent of the $200 millions dollars appeal. At the same time the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the secretary general of the ASEAN, Surin Pitsuwan, asked for and were promised unhindered access into the areas hit hard by Cyclone Nargis.

Since then, the Burmese military began granting visas to the United Nations emergency relief workers. But the visa applications are processed one at a time, and each worker must give two days notice before entering the delta area for a 24 hours stay. But other non-governmental organizations are finding that there has been no improvement in getting access into the delta areas as they still need permission from the government ministries and the military, and must be escorted by the government personals.

Activities of the relief workers are hindered by the government bureaucracy that requires official approval for all actions; and many other aid workers and foreign journalists are still barred from the Irrawaddy delta. So far, only 23 percent of the areas hardest hit by the cyclone Nargis has been reached by aid workers according to the UN.

Interestingly, ten days after the cyclone slammed into Burma, China was also hit by a devastating earthquake; and in both countries, disasters struck in areas where recent monks' unrest and governments' crackdown have taken place. Even though both countries were facing criticisms from attacking the Buddhist monks and protesters, within days after the earthquake, China began accepting help from foreign countries. But the Burmese military refused to allow most foreign experts into the country during the first three weeks.

Burmese government's strict rule against foreign reporters has also resulted in limited press coverage of the cyclone and subsequently the impoverished Burma receives much less aid pledges than China. The backlash against the Burmese governments' indifference to its people's suffering has also contributed to a much smaller than expected international aid.

While Burmese junta continues to rebuff the offer of essential aid from the Americans and French navy---China has been cooperating with the United States and other countries for earthquake relief efforts. After China changed its mind and quickly began accepting foreign assistance, additional financial aids from governments and businesses have been forthcoming, and various diplomatic channels have been opened up for China.

China is also using the occasion to mend its relationship with important neighbors, Japan and Taiwan. Even China's relationship with the Tibetan leaders seems to have eased for the moment, with mutual commitment to help the earthquake victims. Like China, a tremendous window of opportunity has been opened for the Burmese military to gracefully end the political quagmire in Burma through diplomatic and economic channels, after the cyclone. But the Burmese generals have not proven themselves to be equal to the task.

Even as China is trying to improve its global image in the run up to the Olympics; China National Petroleum Corporation and Korea's Daewoo International Corp are signing an agreement with the Burmese junta to explore oil and gas in Burma, in the wake of the cyclone disaster. It is estimated that Burma has at least 90 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and 3.2 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil reserves in 19 onshore and three major offshore fields. Sean Turnell, a professor at Macquarie University in Australia and a specialist on Burma's economy has estimated that the annual income of up to 17 billion dollars from the oil and gas sale will be channeled into the pockets of ruling junta.

But the Burmese military is still hoping for another round of UN flash appeal to raise funds for the cyclone victim on June 12, and a follow-up reconstruction aid under the aegis of nine members from the UN, ASEAN, and the Burmese junta. During the mean time official newspapers in Burma are making it clear that while financial aid packages through the government are welcome direct assistance to the cyclone victims are not. In a crueler scenario, soldiers are believed to be evicting cyclone victims from little shelters available to them.

There have been reports of roadblocks and seizing of vehicles and aid supplies heading into the delta; but in the latest reports the government may be taking actions to diffuse the tension. Meanwhile the World Health Organization warns of potential outbreak of diseases among storm refugees still out of reach in the remote delta region.

Burma in the aftermath of cyclone is in dire straits. Since, Irrawaddy delta and seaside areas affected by the storm are major producers of rice, fish, and salt for the rest of Burma, the government's mishandling of the relief and recovery from the cyclone may create serious countrywide food shortages and further political unrest. The soaring global rice and oil prices are also cutting into the budget of humanitarian agencies already on the ground, such as the Thai Burma Border Consortium, a primary provider of food for the border refugees and displaced ethnic minorities. Unless alternative fundings can be found to meet the price increase, the border refugees like the storm victims will be going hungry soon.

Only months after the violent assault on country's spiritual leaders, Burma's iron bowl has been cracked by unseen forces. And the cyclone has also disrupted the junta's constitutional referendum, and legitimacy of the military government still remains in doubt, in the wake of the disaster.

While the UN is still struggling with the exact number of dead and injured people after the cyclone, the military junta proceeded to claim an overwhelming 92.48 percent votes for its new constitution. Further testing the credibility of Burmese regime, the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won the 1990 landslide election in Burma, expired on May 24th. But military has decided to extend her house arrest by violating its own law which only allows the government to detain Aung San Suu Kyi for a maximum of five years.

Up until now, the Irrawaddy delta has been Burma's lifeblood and a major stabilizing factor for the army's hold on political power. Impact from the cyclone in Burma is staggering and the movement of aid workers inside the disaster zone will no doubt have a lasting political impact on the military's iron grip on power.

Many more people will die in the aftermath of the cyclone tragedy from the government's neglect. The damage from lack of humanitarian assistance has been enormous and the repercussion against the junta will be felt long into the future. As more people in Burma and all over the world are waking up to the reality that Burma is much better off without such a ruthless regime the final days of the ruling generals will be numbered.

May Ng is from the Southern Shan State of Burma and NY Regional Director of Justice for Human Rights in Burma.

UN warns Burma it is endangering its citizens


United Nations officials on Friday warned the Burmese junta against premature resettlement of thousands of victims of Cyclone Nargis, warning that the policy could launch a second wave of the disasters.

Amid reports that the military regime is instructing thousands of people displaced by Cyclone Nargis to return to their places of origin, senior UN officials warned that the policy could lead to disease outbreaks and more hardships for the 2.4 million people already affected by the catastrophe.

"The real risk of people going back prematurely is that they will have no access to essential life-saving services," said Anupama Rao Singh, regional direction for UNICEF.

"They will pretty much become invisible to humanitarian workers, therefore facing all of us with a second wave of disease and disaster," Singh told a press conference in Bangkok.

In fact, tens of thousands of people have been invisible to an international aid relief programme for the past four weeks in the wake of the May 2-3 cyclone.

International aid has reached about 41 per cent of the estimated 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone, with many of them stranded in remote areas in the sprawling Irrawaddy delta, the area hardest hit by the storm that left an estimated 133,000 dead or missing.

Access to the delta remains an issue, almost a week after Burma's junta chief Senior General Than Shwe promised UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that he would allow access to all international aid workers.

Terje Skavdal, Asia-Pacific regional director for the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, acknowledged that Burma had sped up visa approvals for UN experts from two weeks to two days, and had allowed about 20 international workers into the delta since Than Shwe's promise.

"While we welcome the government's approvals of more entry visas for UN staff, we still urge them to show that same flexibility for NGO staff as well," said Skavdal.

He said there was still no clear mechanism by which visas or travel papers into the delta were issued. Burma has allowed about 300 medical workers form Asian countries into the delta, but still blocks certain other foreigners from the area.

The Red Cross Red Crescent has been awaiting travel papers for six foreign experts on water-purification units desperately needed to provide clean water to survivors of the cyclone.

"There is a huge shortage of water in the delta," Red Cross Red Crescent spokesman John Sparrow said.

"We've already deployed our water purification units in the delta, able to produce 1 million a day, but they are still awaiting our experts to become operational." (dpa)

Burma: Continued Torture Of Political Prisoners


Burma: Junta Attacks Internet Freedom

Thursday, May 29, 2008

National Campaign for Food and Freedom

Statement of Burmese democratic forces and supporters around the world,

Calling for an immediate international intervention for food and freedoms in Burma


By creating a coalition of willing


May 28, 2008

We, Burmese democratic organizations – along with Burma campaign groups – around the world are calling for an immediate international intervention in Burma, reminding the international community that this is the time to bring a change in the military-ruled country.


We strongly criticize the United Nations and Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) for their repeated failure to live up to the expectation of international community in providing food and freedoms for Burmese people.


Burmese have suffered again and again under repeated ASEAN and UN's good intentioned but ill fated mediations. ASEAN and UN are simply no match for cunning and cruel Burmese generals who think nothing of breaking their promises. In the past, the end result of the ASEAN and UN failures were only imprisonments of thousands of political activists including our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Some of those prisoners died in custody. However, the number of deaths from the current crisis will be a thousand times larger than previous crises.

Five days after an apparent agreement by the Supremo General Than Shwe, there is no concrete result on the ground. There are even more restrictions for Burmese donors let alone foreign donors. Even Burmese ex-pat physicians who are planning mercy medical missions using their own resources are subjected to a lengthy visa process.

The regime is using police and armed forces not to help those cyclone victims but to force them back to their villages without any assistance. We know how the regime is going to play the game. There will be more meetings and open up a bit each time just to string along the UN.

More people are dying everyday. This is time for ASEAN and UN to admit its failure and let French, EU, US navy and international aid agencies handle the situation. At this time, the junta has extended the house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi illegally after they exhausted the five year period. They have not shown any goodwill towards their own suffering citizens, political prisoners or the world community. There is no reason to believe that the junta will start to change as a result of more negotiation. Concrete effective action, whose time is way overdue, is the only recourse left.


We demand that UN and ASEAN stop the mediation NOW.

All the current available information from the international experts indicates that thousands of the cyclone victims are facing the second wave of death due to the outbreak of diseases. UN and ASEAN have clearly demonstrated the world that they were unable to persuade the Burmese military regime to save the lives of cyclone victims. As such, we request the Nations of the International Community willing to act upon the principle of “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)," to proceed with their noble intention to save the thousands of lives before it is too late.


Undersigned:

Dr. Cynthia Maung (Burma Medical Association) Thailand Win7@loxinfo.co.th Tel: 66-55-544495

Dr Khin Saw Win (Alice) (Burma Medical Association) Canada Alice.khin@ualberta.ca Tel: 780-4924547/780-9529877

Tin Maung Htoo (Canada) Canadian Friends of Burma www.cfob.org Tel: 613-237-8056 tinmaunghtoo@cfob.org

Dr. Raymond Tint Way (Australia) Concerned Burmese Physicians and Professionals www.cmpp-burma.blogspot.com Mobile 61 0416220208 E mail jostint@hotmail.com

Dr Ko K Lay (UK) Concerned Burmese Physicians and Professionals www.cmpp-burma.blogspot.com Tel: 00 44 07790 427271 drkokolay@yahoo.co.uk

Dr. Soe Naung (Jamaica) Concerned Burmese Physicians and Professionals www.cmpp-burma.blogspot.com Tel: 876-995-2875 soehtwe@cwjamaica.com

Dr. Aye Min (USA) Concerned Burmese Physicians and Professionals www.cmpp-burma.blogspot.com Tel: 804-512-4669 radiomin@gmail.com

Dr. Nay Aung Kyaw (Malaysia) Concerned Burmese Physicians and Professionals www.cmpp-burma.blogspot.com Tel: 60122653392 (mobile) E-mail: ksgyaw@gmail.com

Moe Thee Zun (USA) Democratic Federation of Burma wefightwewin@gmail.com

Ar Kar Soe (USA) Anti-Dictatorship People’s Freedom Movement www.adpfmburma.com arkarsoee@yahoo.com Tel: 301-213-0605

Yin Aye (USA) Democratic Burmese Students Organization (USA) yindbso@hotmail.com Tel: 301-905-7591

Tin Maung Thaw (General Secretary) (USA) Committee for Restoration of Democracy in Burma 703-723-4855 tinthaw@yahoo.com

Min Yan Naing (Burma) Generation Wave gwbobmarley@gmail.com

Ko Ko Aung (Japan) Democractic Federation of Burma (Japan) Tel: +81-9015062893 kokoaung_dfbjp@yahoo.com

Kyaw Kyaw Soe (Japan) League for Democracy in Burma (Japan) Tel: +81-9060314394 sayarkway@hotmail.com

Khin Sandi (USA) Women on the Move for Burma Tel: 917 445 9222 freeassk@yahoo.com

Ko Thant Zin Myint (USA)
International Campaign for Burma (New York)
Tel:
347-229-4309 icbnewyork@gmail.com

Ko Myo (USA) 88 Generation Students (Exile) Tel: 347-668-5046 http://www.pbase.com/komyoe88 E-mail: komyoe_art@yahoo.com

Aung Sa Oversea Burmese Patriots (Singapore) aungsayapyi@gmail.com Tel: +65-9487-4413

Taw Thar Gyi (Burma) Democratic Front of the Patriots (HQ) Mindfulness07@gmail.com

Shwe Htee (USA) Nonviolent Empowerment Organization shwehtee@yahoo.com Tel: 571-235-4035

Dr. Thi Ha (USA) Burmese Democracy Forum (Fort Wayne - Indiana) Tel: 260-602-1876

Dong Khup (USA) Chin Freedom Coalition Tel: 443-629-3329

Athein & Zaw Min Htwe (88 Generation) (USA)
Walk for Freedom
Tel: 971 285 7399
Athein168@msn.com
Thurasoe2005@yahoo.com

Aung New Oo (Canada) Burmese Students Democratic Organization Tel: 416-262-5447 Aungoo205@yahoo.com

Thway Ni
Burmese Bloggers without Borders (http://bbwob.blogspot.com/)
thwayni@gmail.com

Aung Tin (Canada)
Chairman (NLD-LA Canada)
Tel: 647 343 7871
uaungtin@yahoo.com

Yin Htway (Thailand)
Joint Secretary
Burma Political Prisoner's Union (http://bppuweb.bizhat.com/)
yinhtway@gmail.com
Tel: 0845755416

Guiding Star (Burma) contact: niknayman.niknayman@gmail.com www.niknayman.blogspot.com

Ko Myat Soe (USA) Justice for Human Rights in Burma ( http://www.jhburma.org/ ) ( http://burmanewsandarticles.blogspot.com/ ) msoe9872@aol.com Tel: 260-615-0575

U Than Aung (Canada) Burma Watch International Tel: (780) 439-7555 Cell:(780) 953-9877 www.burmawatch.org

Dr. Win Naing (UK) Burmese Democratic Community Tel: 0208 2067340 walaynaing@aol.com

Myanmar lashes out at "chocolate bar" foreign aid


YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's junta lashed out at offers of foreign aid on Thursday, criticizing donors' demands for access to the Irrawaddy delta and saying Cyclone Nargis' 2.4 million victims could "stand by themselves."

"The people from Irrawaddy can survive on self-reliance without chocolate bars donated by foreign countries," the Kyemon newspaper said in a Burmese-language editorial.

As with all media in the former Burma, it is tightly controlled by the army and is believed to reflect the thinking of the top generals, who until now have shown signs of growing, albeit grudging, acceptance of outside cyclone assistance.

The editorial also accused the international community of being stingy, noting that the United Nations' "flash appeal" was still a long way short of its $201 million target nearly four weeks after the disaster, which left 134,000 dead or missing.

The level of aid stands in stark contrast to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when governments around the world promised $2 billion within the first week.

"Myanmar needs about $11 billion. The pledging amounted to over $150 million, less than the $201 million mentioned by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as emergency aid," it said, adding a thinly veiled swipe at arch-enemy the United States.

"There is one big nation that even extended economic sanctions on Myanmar although it had already been known that Myanmar was in for a very powerful storm," it said.

The tone of the editorial is at odds with recent praise of the U.N. relief effort, but follows criticism of the junta's extension on Tuesday of the five-year house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

U.S. President George W. Bush said he was "deeply troubled" by the extension and called for the more than 1,000 political prisoners to be freed.

The State Department said the Nobel laureate's detention would not affect U.S. cyclone aid, but a top U.S. commander said warships laden with aid would leave waters near the delta if they did not get a green light soon.

France, which has diverted a naval vessel to the Thai island of Phuket to offload aid supplies, demanded the immediate release of Suu Kyi, who has now spent nearly 13 of the last 18 years in prison or under house arrest.

Her National League for Democracy party won a 1990 poll by a landslide only to be denied power by the military, which has ruled the impoverished country for 46 years.


DIRE STRAITS

The situation remains dire for many survivors in the delta, the "rice bowl of Asia" in the days before what was then Burma won independence from Britain in 1948.

The army has started to bury bodies in communal graves, villagers said, although there has been no official word on plans to dispose of the thousands of corpses that still litter the fields and waterways.

Bodies are grotesquely bloated or rotting to the bone and covered in swarms of flies. The stench of death remains strong.

"The soldiers told everyone to shoo, to go away," one woman said at a communal burial site in Khaw Mhu, 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Yangon, where soldiers covered bodies in "white powder" before pouring concrete over them.

Private donors, who received assurances in state media this week that they could go where they wanted in the delta, have also run into problems, with 46 drivers and vehicles being impounded on Sunday night after a trip out of the former capital.

"They told us not to make any donations to people begging by the road," one of those held overnight told Reuters. "It is said that our donations will spoil their appetite for hard work. We completely disagree with it."

FEWER THAN HALF GET HELP

Three weeks after the cyclone's 120 mph (190 kph) winds and sea surge devastated the delta, the U.N. says it is slowly being given more access, with all its staff with pending visa requests being granted permission to enter the country.

However, getting aid and experts to the delta remains a very different proposition. The latest assessment from the U.N.'s disaster response arm suggests fewer than half of victims have had any help from "local, national or international actors."

Witnesses say many villages have received no food, clean water or shelter, and farmers are struggling against huge odds to plant a new crop to avoid long-term food shortages.

"We have only until June to plant the main rice crop," one farmer called Huje said in the village of Paw Kahyan Lay, 40 km (25 miles) southwest of Yangon.

"Our fields are flooded with salt-water and we have no water buffalo to plough with," the 47-year-old said, standing with his daughter in the ruins of their home.

(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sanjeev Miglani)




Tuesday, May 27, 2008

U.S., others still waiting offshore to deliver help to Burma


By Cindy Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, May 28, 2008


The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the USS Essex remain in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Myanmar ready to help in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, a 31st MEU spokesman said Tuesday.

"We are still waiting" to be called upon, Staff Sgt. Marc Ayalin said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on May 2 and an estimated 130,000 are missing or dead due to the cyclone, according to the United Nations. And about 2.4 million still need assistance, according to the U.N.

Some international aid agencies and foreign relief workers were allowed into the area Monday. However, the Myanmar government continues to refuse the assistance of U.S. and other ships carrying supplies off the coast.

Though they have been denied access, the Marines and sailors of the MEU and Essex have been busy preparing for the possibility they might yet be called to provide humanitarian assistance, according to a Marine release.

More than a dozen met with their counterparts on Le Mistral, a French naval vessel also in the Andaman Sea, on Friday to see "how the other half lives and works," according to the release.

As part of the visit, they toured the French ship’s storage area were 40 tons of supplies were stored that could be used in relief efforts, Capt. Raymond Howard, the 31st MEU’s embarkation officer, said in the release.

The visit also showed where the French sailors and the U.S. Marines and sailors could help each other in any relief efforts.

The French have the relief supplies but limited embarkation equipment. That’s where the MEU and Essex could fill in the gap, Howard said.

"We have plenty of assets to offset the handling equipment they’re missing so it would be great to see us partner with them and get those in need the supplies they require as fast as possible," Howard said.

U.N. leaders expect relief efforts in Myanmar to continue for at least the next six months

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Junta still delaying aid work


BURMA CYCLONE

By Supalak G khundee

The Nation

The UN-Asean international pledging conference in Rangoon yesterday failed to end the Burmese military junta's restriction on access for international aid workers to the cyclone-devastated areas.

"They have opened more, at least granting permission for foreign media and some international aid workers to see the devastated areas, but it is not unhindered access," said Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.

Entry visas for international aid workers would be considered and granted on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Despite the well-attended conference, with some 500 participants, the two remaining challenges for the international community are securing access for aid workers and assistance, Noppadon said.

The one-day conference, in which 52 nations and 25 international organisations took part, began on a note of optimism following promises by the junta that foreign aid workers could enter the most devastated areas from which they have been banned since the cyclone struck three weeks ago.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after a meeting with the junta's paramount leader Than Shwe the general would allow "unhindered access" for international aid workers.

"I hope this marks a turning point in tackling the challenges facing this country," Ban said as the conference convened with a minute of silence for the victims of the cyclone.

Burmese officials told the meeting that the cyclone on May 2-3 left 77,738 dead and 55,917 missing. Some 3,200 tonnes of humanitarian supplies from abroad have already been delivered.

Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein, who chaired the meeting with UN chief Ban and Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo, the current Asean chairman, suggested the rescue and relief phase was over and called for US$10.7 billion in foreign funding for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

But the donors will not dig into their pockets unless the junta guarantees transparency and accountability. The amount of donations at the conference is far below the actual need.

Thailand has already provided $12.09 million and offered Don Mueang Airport as a launching pad for the assistance. China announced assistance of $10 million.

The United Nations has received about $50 million in contributions and about $42.5 million in pledges.

Dilemma in the delta


Lack of understanding is no excuse for helpless politics in Burma, writes ROLF EAGLEMAN

Most observers agree that the reaction of the military junta in Burma to the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis is inappropriate, inhumane or cynical. But on the other hand the international community, including the media, diplomats and intelligence, do not seem to fully understand the background and reasons for this strange behaviour. Calling the regime "reclusive" or "secretive" and going ahead as usual does not appear as a good enough basis for today's "donor conference" in Rangoon.

The usual complaint is: "We don't understand why the generals do not accept our generous help, and let our experts go to the Irrawaddy Delta as fast as possible."

Strange, since this seems the most simple point to understand. Just take a look at the history of this area.

For the past two weeks, the American and French warships with humanitarian aid have been cruising off the delta. About 150 years ago, nearly from the same position, the British colonial armada invaded Rangoon. And only 60 years ago, under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi's father, the Burmese army terminated the British occupation - in the delta again.

But permanent peace has never come to this shaken region. With roughly 70% ethnic Burmese, the delta comprises scattered territories. Tribal, commercial and political struggle is very alive here, for many reasons.

When in September 2000 Aung San Suu Kyi tried to meet members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) south of Rangoon, British Ambassador John Jenkins was rebuffed from following her across the river into the Irrawaddy Delta. Western ambassadors barely understand that the delta region is not just a flat area southwest of the former capital, but a "hot place" by all political and security means.

Formerly infiltrated by communist forces, the delta is home to quite a number of ethnically diverse groups: immigrated Tamils and Bengalis, a good percentage of ethnic Karen plus some Mon. The Irrawaddy Delta is considered a breeding ground of opposition movements, too near to the now "economic capital" of the country to be ignored. There are records dating only some years ago about Burmese army bombarding "rebel cells" in the township of Bogale - now mostly destroyed by Nargis.

The Burmese military, the "Tatmadaw" and their leading generals consider themselves still in the same fighting position as 50 years ago.

Although they were quite successful in decimating and controlling most of the "enemy forces" and proud to have kept Burma together as a country, against all centrifugal forces, they will not leave the battlefield to "aliens, communists or western-type democrats."

Contrary to the international community, they are very aware that just some decades ago a Burmese president was ironically called "Suburb President" since his military power ended on Rangoon's city limits bordering the Irrawaddy Delta, and today's suffering Karen groups once showed their rifle power to the struggling Burmese Army.

No wonder that for the last 50 years the Irrawaddy Delta has been under tough military control. Some famous Army officers have served as regional commanders in this area, earning a lot of medals for keeping down the "enemy within". Among them: the late dictator Ne Win, who first attacked the British colonial forces in the delta, Snr-Gen Saw Maung and - you bet - Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the current junta leader.

Ironically, since the generals never managed to get the country economically back on its feet, many people in the Irrawaddy Delta remain critical of the Tatmadaw. People voted strongly for the NLD in the 1990 democratic elections. Not that they wholeheartedly understood democracy, but they trusted Aung San Suu Kyi for the simple fact that she equally represented "the honest part of the military," like her father.

Until today, the NLD leadership is mainly composed of former Tatmadaw generals, converted into democrats.

Barely keeping up with the "enemy within" and getting the angry monks under control, how could the generals suddenly let hundreds or thousands of potentially "destructive elements" into this highly sensitive area?

Didn't the American president himself recently classify Burma as an "outpost of tyranny" like North Korea and intensify sanctions against the country?

Didn't the European Union harden its criticism and boycott policy against the country? So how could the generals suddenly trust these self-declared enemies?

Soldiers don't take risks

Of course, the leadership in Naypyidaw is aware that the majority of the helpers are real ones. But soldiers will not take any risk. Along with the experts, technicians and humanitarian aid workers, numerous journalists and some of the usual "in telligence community specialists" will come to the delta, see the total mess and report it to the world. Worse, they could incite the suffering people against the military - a situation they barely survived nine months ago.

This is the "dilemma of the generals." In order to uphold the country's integrity and themselves as the guarantors, the old soldiers in Naypyidaw will not accept any alternative which might include a risk for themselves and their future plans. Hence, the urgency to continue with the national referendum, at whatever cost.

Letting the people die is a lesser problem for them, since they consider the "prevailing importance of security, law and order" above all else. The so-called "international" pressure is as old as themselves, and the generals are sure that nobody from outside can really and deeply understand them and the situation in the country.

As long as they don't fully understand these basic rules, US President George W. Bush, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej or United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon won't have any real say - and they will remain side players in the foreseeable future.

The "Emperor of Naypyidaw" wants to be the first post-war leader leaving the country united, with a safe "constitution" and weak opposition and ethnic power. Why should he take any uncontrollable risk because of some tens or hundreds of thousand dead people? It is a natural disaster anyhow.

The experienced leaders of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) perfectly understand every action, reaction and behaviour of the Burmese leadership. Hence, it took them more than two weeks to think about any type of help. The matter was too hot and Asean was not ready.

Asean may be an economic tiger, but is still a political pussy cat. So Asean is acting as a "buffer" between the generals and the "aliens". The ugly truth is that the region needs Burma more than the generals need them.

Burma exports a lot of gas, timber and stones and will be a big supplier of electricity in the future. It will be a Pandora's Box of regional trouble if their neighbours don't comply. No wonder military brains like the Indonesian minister of defence uphold the idea that "a bit of dictatorship is better than a civil war."

But letting a large number of people die is different from losing money on the stock exchange.

So many people died in the delta because they lived in poorly built wooden huts and houses, which were swept away by Cyclone Nargis. Even if they got early warnings, what could they have done? Swim to Rangoon?

Therefore, like what happened in last year's petrol price upheaval, the solution does not lie in politics, but with the politicians, who ignore people's most basic needs: food, drink, shelter, health, education. The generals, staring at the danger of "real democracy", forgot that people don't eat democracy, just food. They missed the chance to give them just that.

Modernisation is key

Giving immediate help to the cyclone victims would have enabled the generals to save the country's "rice bowl". Now the harvest is gone, and the fields are salty.

With the hard-working people in the delta and some more monsoon rain they could have saved the future.

Two-thirds of the national rice production came from the Irrawaddy Delta. Again, the faltering economy, not politics, will hammer the final nail into the coffin of the irresponsible leaders.

Did they have any alternative? Yes, they did - like King Mindon in the mid-19th century. This wise leader realised that he "had to adapt to an increasingly European-dominated and fast-changing world."

"Burmese way" or not, he understood that seriously modernising the country was the only chance for a prosperous future. But modernising does not work the generals' way: building roads, dams and bridges, plus some telephone lines.

Modernising starts with education, learning, self-criticism and even taking some risk. Prison camps do not contribute to modernisation, even if the prisoners work very hard. China gave an impressive example just now: although they are for sure not a democracy and don't like foreign critics at all, they first served their people, let foreigners in, including helpers and journalists. Now even the critical Western world respects and hails China's efforts.

A poor Burma will never end the internal unrest and ethnic trouble. A prosperous and wealthy country on the contrary could easily integrate divergent groups and make everybody happy. By the way, Europe's most stable and wealthy country - Switzerland - was the worst ethno-fighting and killing zone centuries ago.

King Mindon had no chance in his time - the British intruders terminated his reform plans. Luckily, his "brother in mind", King Mongkut of Siam went ahead, successfully implemented reforms and opened up a better future for the Kingdom of Thailand.

The generals of this world should do their job: fighting the enemy from outside and keeping the borders safe. Just as a minister of commerce should not drive a tank, how can a tank driver run the complicated economy of an even more complicated country?

If the Burmese rulers don't understand this logic, they should have a look at their successful neighbours, before they disappear in a million empty and angry stomachs.

Rolf Eagleman is a freelance journalist.

Asean and UN Chairmen's Summary




Sunday, 25 May 2008

The ASEAN and UN Chairmen of the Myanmar Cyclone Nargis Pledging Conference welcome the presence of 51 countries at today's meeting and the high level of representation despite the short notice. They also salute the strong unity of purpose and the sense of urgency shown at the meeting. There was a universal recognition of the unprecedented magnitude of the disaster for Myanmar, and horror at the enormous loss of life and massive devastation caused by the Cyclone and the tidal surge which accompanied it. The participants extended their deepest condolences to the people of
Myanmar and expressed their admiration for the courage and resilience of the survivors and all those trying to help them.


ASEAN-UN International Pledging Conference on Cyclone Nargis
Yangon, Myanmar
25 May 2008

ASEAN and UN Chairmen’s Summary

The ASEAN and UN Chairmen of the Myanmar Cyclone Nargis Pledging Conference welcome the presence of 51 countries at today's meeting and the high level of representation despite the short notice. They also salute the strong unity of purpose and the sense of urgency shown at the meeting. There was a universal recognition of the unprecedented magnitude of the disaster for Myanmar, and horror at the enormous loss of life and massive devastation caused by the Cyclone and the tidal surge which accompanied it. The participants extended their deepest condolences to the people of
Myanmar and expressed their admiration for the courage and resilience of the survivors and all those trying to help them.

There was unanimous agreement on the need to scale up urgently and very significantly the current relief efforts, to ensure that all those in desperate nee are reached quickly and with adequate lifesaving relief supplies, and that an effective flow of these supplies is maintained for as long as is necessary, through the establishment of the necessary logistical arrangements and an acceleration of the arrival and distribution of vital relief goods. The agreement of the Government of Myanmar to facilitate international relief workers to enter and operate in the country, will undoubtedly contribute to the necessary immediate stepping up of the relief operation. There was also strong agreement that a major extra effort would be needed h m all quarters, national and international, to achieve the immediate objective of preventing further unnecessary deaths. The financial pledges made at the Conference will be vital for this purpose.

There was strong support for the decision reached at the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting held on 19 May 2008 in Singapore to establish, an ASEAN-led coordinating mechanism. To realize this, an ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis, composed of senior officials and experts from ASEAN countries, led by the Secretary-General of ASFAN, has been established. There was a warm welcome for the proposed creation of a Yangon-based Tripartite Core Group comprising representatives from the Government of Myanmar, ASEAN and UN as a
working mechanism for coordinating, facilitating, and monitoring the flow of international assistance into the country. This p u p would begin its work immediately to ensure full information exchange, close coordination of relief and recovery effort and resolution of any problems which may arise.

For the longer term, the Government of Myanmar made clear the scale of the rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery efforts likely to be needed, and the immediate requirement to ensure that farming and fishing activities could be resumed as soon as possible, not least to ensure that as much rice can be planted as possible in the forthcoming planting season. The international community is ready to consider helping the Government of Myanmar in these and other areas. For these purposes a comprehensive rapid joint assessment of recovery needs, and development of a shared post disaster recovery and reconstruction plan are indispensable steps.

This Conference was an important exercise towards building greater trust, confidence and cooperation between the Government of Myanmar and the international community. Finally, the participants in the Conference are united in their determination to help the people of Myanmar and in particular those in the worst affected areas to overcome this dreadful tragedy and resume their normal lives as quickly as possible. This is being carried out with a sense of urgency based our shared humanity.


Q & A

Reuters: How much total donations cash has come in?
John Holmes: I can’t tell you the total exact figure at the moment. I think we’re trying to work that out because it is quite difficult to distinguish between a lot of the aid which has been given already and many countries are explaining how much they’d already given and then to work out what the new pledges are. I’ve had pledges of, I think around at least 30 million dollars extra from the pledges and contributions we’ve had already and I think its important to recognize that the value of the conference went well beyond the immediate financial pledges made because as the statement makes clear, this was an exercise in creating trust and in creating a way to move forward, in creating a joint commitment to move forward from the international community as a whole, from the UN and ASEAN and from the government of Myanmar. I think its also clear that once the conditions of operation of the relief efforts become clearer, and the international relief staff can get in freely and we have a better needs assessment there, then there is a clear readiness on the part of many donors to step up their contributions. It was important to see that readiness there and that’s more important than the immediate sums which are based on the day to day.

Nikkei Shimbun: Has the UN been assured that international experts will be granted access to the cyclone affected areas?

John Holmes: Yes, we are confident that this will happen, but of course the key is in the implementation. There is a very clear message from the participants in the conference that they want to see the promises made translated into reality. I think as the Secretary General made it clear this morning, the early signs are encouraging, there are international staff, albeit small numbers so far, moving into the affected areas down in the Irrawaddy delta, who were not allowed to go there before, so that’s obviously good news. I think what is clear that the statements of the Secretary General made, the Statement in the Joint Chairmen’s summary, that the Foreign Ministers just read out, are fully endorsed by the Government of Myanmar, that’s clear from the conversations that we have had. Of course we do need to translate this into clear procedures for all concerned to make sure that this can happen in a systematic and orderly way. We’ve every reason to believe that this will happen, but of course, we want to see it happen quickly because what happens on the ground are absolutely key for the future. ENDS

Saturday, May 24, 2008

UN in Myanmar: history of failed efforts


The Associated Press

Published: May 24, 2008



BANGKOK, Thailand: Efforts in recent years by the United Nations to achieve democratic reform and end human rights abuses in Myanmar have been punctuated by frustration, false hopes and failure:

1974: Anti-regime riots erupt when the body of retired U.N. Secretary-General U Thant comes home to Myanmar for burial.

1989: Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained and put under house arrest after the military's brutal suppression of an uprising a year earlier.

1990: U.N. Commission on Human Rights names Sadako Ogata to assess the human rights situation in Myanmar. She is followed by others.

1998: Peruvian diplomat Alvara de Soto named special U.N. envoy to break the deadlock between military and democracy advocates. U.N. and World Bank propose financial incentives for change that then-Foreign Minister Win Aung calls "offering a banana to a monkey and asking it to dance."


April 4, 2000: Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail appointed special U.N. envoy for Myanmar.

Sept. 2000: Suu Kyi, released in 1995, placed under house arrest again.

Nov. 29, 2001: Razali say he's "hopeful that some significant progress could be made in the near future."

2002: Razali helps secure the release of Suu Kyi from house arrest and the regime declares "the era of confrontation is over."

2003: Suu Kyi is put back under house arrest.

Jan. 4, 2006: Razali resigns as envoy, frustrated at being barred from entering the country for nearly two years.

May 20, 2006: Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Gambari becomes the first foreigner to meet Suu Kyi in more than two years amid renewed talk of a "breakthrough."

May 22, 2007: Suu Kyi's house arrest extended.

Sept. 2007: Military brutally crushes mass street demonstrations against regime.

Sept. 29: Gambari arrives for four-day visit to Myanmar, meeting junta leaders and Suu Kyi. The regime later holds a brief meeting with Suu Kyi.

Oct. 11: U.N. Security Council, in its first formal statement on Myanmar, says it "strongly deplores" situation in country.

Nov. 2: Junta says it intends to expel top U.N. diplomat in the country.

Nov. 3: Gambari arrives in Myanmar and U.N. later expresses hope his visit will speed up "national reconciliation, the restoration of democracy and the full respect for human rights." But Suu Kyi remains under house arrest and her dialogue with the military goes nowhere.

May 2-3, 2008: Cyclone Nargis slams into Myanmar but U.N. officials are barred from entering hardest-hit areas, have little control over distribution of their aid.

May 22: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrives in Myanmar, hoping to cut through obstacles to international aid flow to survivors.

May 23: Ban says Myanmar's junta has agreed to allow "all aid workers" into the country to help cyclone survivors.



Friday, May 23, 2008

THE SECRETARY GENERAL: REMARKS TO PRESS AT THE HOTEL SEDONA



Yangon, 23 May 2008

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here. This is a special occasion, in many ways, not least because my visit here is the first of an UN Secretary-General in 44 years.

I came here to give the people of Myanmar a message of hope---that the world is watching, and that the world is with you.

I must tell you. Flying over the Irrawaddy delta yesterday, I saw the saddest things: homes and villages destroyed, fields flooded, roads and bridges washed away, so many lives lost. We work hard in our lives, for ourselves and our families. And then, in a moment, it is gone.

I am humbled—humbled by the scale of this natural disaster, the worst your country has ever experienced, and humbled by the courage and the resilience of the Myanmar people. During my visit I heard the most tragic stories. At a refugee camp, villagers told me of the loss of their families, their loved ones, everything they owned. But I also saw homes—and lives—being rebuilt.

Life continues. I met a mother, living in a tent, who gave birth to a baby girl only hours before my visit. She was healthy. So is her infant daughter. They have a future. I told them my heart was with them, and to not lose hope. I know they will not, for they have already proved it.

And I told them that I—as well as the international community and the entire UN family—will do everything possible to help.

I am encouraged by my discussions with Myanmar’s leadership. From all I have seen, the government, with help from the international community, have put in place a functioning relief program. But I told them that more needs to be done. Their efforts need to be reinforced, quickly, by international experts with tested experience in handling emergencies.

In this regard, I specifically asked the government to liberalize visa policies and to grant unhindered access to foreign aid experts, and also journalists, so that they can operate freely and effectively throughout Myanmar. I also asked the government for permission to establish forward logistics bases in the affected areas so as to more efficiently distribute aid and coordinate assistance to those in need. I further requested the government’s cooperation in deploying the extra assets needed in such operations—among them transport boats and helicopters.

I am happy to report that we have made progress on all these issues. This morning, I had a good meeting with Senior General Than Shwe.

He agreed to allow international aid workers into the affected areas, regardless of nationality. He has taken quite a flexible position on an issue that, until now, has been an obstacle to organizing coordinated and fully effective international aid and assistance operations. He has also agreed that visa issue will be speeded up.

The Senior General also agreed that Yangon Airport could be used as a logistical hub for international aid, from which it could be more quickly distributed to those in need. He further agreed that international aid could be delivered to Myanmar via civilian ships and small boats.

I hope all these agreements can produce results quickly. Implementation will be the key. Finally, we have agreed on the kind of effective coordination and consulting mechanisms we need, and we are finalizing the details with ASEAN as well. I warmly welcome ASEAN’s leadership.

I return to Yangon for the international pledging conference on Sunday, where Myanmar’s partners will discuss these matters in greater depth. Our goal will be to focus on the immediate relief efforts, and also to look at the recovery phase which will have to start in parallel. We need to galvanize the leadership and resources required to give concrete expression to our good will toward Myanmar and its remarkable people.

Thank you. I have time for a few questions.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

U.N. Chief 'Very Upset' Over Condition of Burma Survivors



Ban toured the devastated Irrawaddy Delta in southern Myanmar by helicopter. The coastline of the Andaman Sea was hit especially hard, and aid workers have reported bodies still lining the shore in some spots

Ban, who spoke to some camp residents, said: "I'm very upset by what I've seen."

The victims had cooking pots and blankets that appeared to be new.

The BBC's Laura Trevelyan, who is travelling with him, said the aircraft touched down at a tidy camp with few people in it and brand new tents - some of which were empty.

A UN official privately called it a "show camp", our correspondent says.













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Call for Burma's leaders to face court


From correspondents in Strasbourg

May 22, 2008 07:47pm

THE European Parliament has called for Burma junta leaders to be brought before the international court in The Hague if they continue to prevent aid from reaching cyclone-stricken regions.

The euro deputies, meeting in Strasbourg, voted overwhelmingly - 524 votes for, three against with 13 abstentions - in the non-binding resolution that "if the Burmese authorities continue to prevent aid from reaching those in danger, they should be held accountable for crimes against humanity before the ICC (International Criminal Court)".

The MEPs also called on EU member states to push the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution to refer the matter to the court "for investigation and prosecution".

The assembled MEPs strongly condemned the "unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis by the Burmese authorities, which have put preservation of their own power before the survival of their citizens".

The resolution came before Burma voters in the cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy delta region are asked to approve a new constitution Saturday, even with two million people still hungry and homeless three weeks after the killer storm.

The regime has already declared a 92.4 per cent victory in the first round of voting on May 10, which was held in regions that were spared by the cyclone.

The European Parliament deplored "the distorted priorities of the regime in pushing ahead with its so-called referendum on the sham constitution and rejects the implausible outcome at a time when a large part of the country has been devastated and millions are suffering from what has been aptly described as a natural disaster turned into a man-made catastrophe".

Burma's secretive military junta has stunned the world by refusing a full-scale foreign relief effort that could save countless lives.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left today for a personal look at the disaster area, on the first day of a visit aimed at pushing for a full emergency relief effort after Cyclone Nargis.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

စစ္အုပ္စုသတင္းစာညာေနသည္။ ၿမန္မာ႔အသံလိမ္ေနသည္။ ေစာက္ရွဳး ေက်ာ္ဆန္းလူသတ္ခဲ႔သည္။

သတင္း- ေနၿပည္ေတာ္

လူေပါင္းမ်ားစြာေသေၾကေစခဲ႔တဲ႔ နာဂစ္ဆုိင္ကလုံးမုန္တုိင္း မတုိက္ခုိက္မွီ ၿမန္မာၿပည္ စစ္အစုိးရသတင္းစာ ထဲမွာ ေဖာ္ၿပထားေသာမုိးေလ၀သေက်ညာခ်က္ကိုေလ႔လာႏုိင္ရန္ႏွင္႔ သတင္းအခ်က္အလက္ အမွန္ကုိသိေစရန္ အတြက္ေဖာ္ၿပလုိက္ပါသည္။

ထုိအခ်ိန္တြင္ ႏုိင္ငံေရးကုိ သြက္ခ်ာပါဒရွဳး ေနေသာ ယူနီေဖာင္း၀တ္ၿပန္ၾကားေရး၀န္ၾကီး ေက်ာ္ဆန္း(ေခၚ) ၾကပ္ေၿပး Bob ဟာ ၿပည္လုံးကြ်တ္ဆႏၵခံယူပြဲ အတြက္မဲလိမ္၊မဲခုိးဖုိ႔ ကုိသာ အပူတၿပင္း ၿပင္ဆင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ေနသလုိ၊ ၀န္ၾကီးခ်ဴပ္သိန္းစိန္ဟာ ထုိင္း၀န္ၾကီးခ်ဴပ္ေစာက္ရွဳး စမတ္ ကုိယ္တုိင္ခ်က္ေသာ စားေသာက္ပြဲေတာ္ကုိၿမိန္ရည္ရွက္ရည္စား ေသာက္ေနေသာ အခ်ိန္ၿဖစ္ပါတယ္။ ၿပည္သူေတြကေတာ႔ ေၿပးစရာမရွိ၊ကယ္ဆယ္မဲ႔လူမရွိၿဖစ္ခဲ႔ရတယ္။

လူေပါင္းမ်ားစြာေသေၾကေစခဲ႔တဲ႔ နာဂစ္ဆုိင္ကလုံးမုန္တုိင္း တုိက္ခိုက္ၿပီးေသာလည္း လူအေသအေပ်ာက္ သိပ္မရွိေၾကာင္း၊ ၿပည္လုံးကြ်တ္ဆႏၵခံယူပြဲဟာလူေသဆုံးတာထက္ ပုိအေရးၾကီး ေၾကာင္း၊ ကုိတင္ၿပေဆြးေႏြးသူ ေတြထဲမွာ သြက္ခ်ာပါဒရွဳး ေနေသာ ယူနီေဖာင္း၀တ္ ၿပန္ၾကားေရး၀န္ၾကီး ေက်ာ္ဆန္း(ေခၚ) ၾကပ္ေၿပး Bob၊စုိးသာ၊ေအာင္ေသာင္း၊ေမာင္ေသာင္း ၊ ၿမင္႔ေဆြ၊ အပါအ၀င္ သန္းေရႊရဲ႕ အုပ္စုသာ ၿဖစ္ေၾကာင္း၊

သီဟသူရတင္ေအာင္ၿမင္႔ဦးကေတာ႔တုိင္းၿပည္ဟာအေရးေပၚအေၿခအေန ေက်ညာထားတာ ေၾကာင္႔ အေရးေပၚအေၿခအေနမွာ ဆႏၵခံယူမဲေပးေရး မသင္႔ေတာ္ေၾကာင္း ေၿပာဆုိႏုိင္ခဲ႔တယ္လုိ႔ ေသာ္လည္း၊ သန္းေရႊအုပ္စုက လက္မခံဘဲပယ္ခ်ခဲ႔ေၾကာင္းေနၿပည္ေတာ္ရက္ကြက္မွာေၿပာဆုိေနၾကတယ္။





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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

USAID Responds to Cyclone Nargis




FY 2008 HUMANITARIAN FUNDING PROVIDED TO DATE

USAID/OFDA Assistance to Burma: $5,508,346
USAID/FFP Assistance to Burma: $12,000,000
DOD Assistance to Burma: $1,645,400
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance to Burma: $19,153,746



CURRENT SITUATION


* The cyclone affected approximately 2.4 million people, and cyclone-related deaths could range from approximately 63,000 to more than 101,000, according to OCHA. On May 19, OCHA reported that 1.4 million individuals are currently in severely affected areas of Burma and require prioritized assistance. As of May 16, the GOB had raised the official death toll from Cyclone Nargis to more than 77,000. According to GOB state media, nearly 56,000 people remain missing. The official number of injured stands at nearly 19,400 people.
* Aid agencies report that customs clearance in Rangoon is slowly improving, and relief supplies consigned to NGOs are arriving in Rangoon without GOB obstruction. To assess whether assistance is effectively reaching beneficiaries, NGOs continue to highlight the need for improved humanitarian access into affected areas. While NGO capacity to absorb relief commodities within Burma remains limited, the GOB has explicitly stated that NGOs with existing authorization are permitted to operate in Burma to receive, transport, and distribute relief goods. Humanitarian Access
* According to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) assessment team, access to the affected areas for the provision of humanitarian assistance remains the leading concern for the international community. The ASEAN team reports the possibility of additional deaths and increased morbidity due to disease outbreaks and malnutrition, which could be avoided through a more coordinated effort between the GOB and international relief organizations. On May 19, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes visited Labutta and Wakema townships in Ayeyarwady Division and met with humanitarian agencies. U.N. Coordinator Holmes also met with Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein on May 20 and urged greater access for international relief efforts.
* According to OCHA, local authorities in Labutta township granted humanitarian workers access to villages outside Labutta town and to eight GOB distribution stations for the delivery of food aid.
Logistics
* The U.N. Logistics Cluster in Rangoon has contracted three barges for an interagency common transport service. The first barge is scheduled to depart Rangoon on May 20, delivering Action Contre la Faim and U.N. World Food Program (WFP) cargo to Bogale township in Ayeyarwady Division.
* The U.N. Logistics Cluster has obtained 30 trucks for interagency use in Rangoon and is considering the establishment of a fuel storage area to ensure adequate fuel supplies for the truck fleet.
Health
* According to the U.N. Health Cluster, major hospitals in cyclone-affected regions of Burma are functioning and have access to medical supplies. However, OCHA reports that the cyclone has damaged or destroyed more than 50 percent of health care structures in the outlying areas, which remain difficult to reach with medical assistance and supplies. In addition, limited access to cyclone-affected areas due to GOB restrictions continues to hamper international efforts to provide emergency health services.
* As of May 18, humanitarian organizations from the U.N. Health Cluster had provided 350 metric tons of medical supplies and equipment in response to the cyclone, including 3 million water purification tablets, 90,000 water containers, and more than 50,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets, as well as emergency health kits and essential medicines requested by GOB national and local health authorities. The GOB Ministry of Health is sending medical assistants and midwives to health centers and clinics to conduct chlorination of water, vaccinations, and disease surveillance, as well as to support mobile health outreach teams.
* Health partners continue to report increased numbers of severe watery diarrhea; however, the number of cases remains within the normal seasonal range, according to OCHA. The GOB Ministry of Health, U.N. agencies, and NGOs working in the affected areas are implementing an early warning system to prepare for a potential outbreak of severe watery diarrhea.
Child Protection
* The U.N. estimates that approximately 40 percent of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm are children. According to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), psychosocial support to children impacted by the cyclone is a priority need. According to the U.N. Protection Cluster, aid agencies have established 55 functioning child-friendly spaces to date in Rangoon and Ayeyarwady divisions, with cluster members in the process of setting up an additional 92 sites in affected areas.
* The cluster has conducted assessments of separated and unaccompanied children due to the cyclone in Ayeyarwady Division’s Labutta, Myaungmya, and Bogale towns and will report findings in the coming days.
GOB Response
* On May 19, the GOB declared three days of national mourning beginning on May 20 for victims of Cyclone Nargis.
* On May 19, state media reported that the GOB had spent approximately $46.3 million on relief and rehabilitation efforts to date.

USG HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE

* On May 5, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Shari Villarosa declared a disaster in Burma due to the effects of Cyclone Nargis. In response, USAID/OFDA deployed a USAID/DART and immediately provided $250,000 to UNICEF, WFP, and the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for emergency food, water and sanitation, and shelter assistance.
* On May 6, an additional $3 million from USAID/OFDA was allocated for the provision of emergency relief assistance, including $1 million to the American Red Cross and $2 million for NGO partners.
* On May 12, USAID Administrator Henrietta H. Fore announced $13 million in food aid and logistics assistance through WFP.
* From May 12 to 20, the USAID/DART and DOD coordinated the delivery of nearly $1.2 million of USAID/OFDA relief commodities to Rangoon on 36 DOD C-130 flights. The relief supplies will provide assistance to more than 113,000 beneficiaries.
* U.S. Navy ships deployed in the region for training exercises can be redirected, if necessary to support relief efforts. The U.S. Military continues to make plans to support potential relief operations to Burma.





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Humanitarian Intervention Now!


"We should not let people die."

News: Justice for Human Rights in Burma ( J.H.B)

ၿမန္မာၿပည္ရွိ AID Agency အဖြဲ႔မွာ လုပ္ကုိင္ေနေသာသူတဦး၏ ေပးစာကုိဖတ္ရွဳ႕ ႏုိင္ရန္ ကြ်န္ေတာ္ ေ၀မွ်လုိက္ပါသည္။ ေမာ္လၿမိဳင္ကြ်န္း ကုိသြားေရာက္စဥ္ မွတ္တမ္းတင္ထား ေသာဓာတ္ပုံမ်ားမွာ ရင္ႏွင္႔ဖြယ္ရာေကာင္းေသာ ေၾကာင္႔ ၊မသင္႔ေတာ္ေသာ္ေၾကာင္႔ တခ်ိဳ႕ကုိသာေဖာ္ၿပေပးပါမည္။ သူတုိ႔အဖြဲ႔ဟာ ေမာ္လၿမိဳင္ကြ်န္း ႏွင္႔ ဗိုလ္ကေလး ၿမိဳ႕ က မေန႔ကဘဲ ၿပန္လည္ေရာက္ရွိခဲ႔တာပါ။


Our org is providing storage water baskets (200 gals), shelter and water catchments for relief areas. We send 90 people for 11 teams( Ayeyarwaddi 7 & Yangon 4 townships). Even Bogalay, they don't get aid. For the villages you have asked, Govt sends materials and kept in store rooms, and some offices. But refugees need now. What are they doing we don't understand on them. I cannot find words for them. When our team went to emergency areas/serious areas, they took pictures. As you know, many dead bodies in many places. Gov did not take actions now. Dead bodies have nearly gone…left meat only …Some are left bone in field. Some one came back from Mawlamying kunn. You can see it.


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