Concerns Over Myanmar Junta's Role
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: May 14, 2008
YANGON, Myanmar - Further deliveries of small-scale aid arrived in Myanmar on Tuesday - a darkly clouded and rainy day in Yangon and in the south - but international aid experts and diplomats in the capital expressed concern that the Burmese government may not be up to delivering it, a task it has claimed almost exclusively as its own.
In Brussels on Tuesday, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Javier Solana, said that if the Myanmar government continued to bar large-scale aid, outside donors should find a way to deliver it anyway.
"We have to use all the means to help those people," he said. "The United Nations charter opens some avenues if things cannot be resolved in order to get the humanitarian aid to arrive."
Ten days after the devastating cyclone struck, the isolationist military government has slightly eased its restrictions on aid but is still blocking most large-scale deliveries of relief supplies, aid officials said. Adding to the difficulties, the hundreds of thousands of people who most need help are largely in remote and inaccessible coastal and delta regions.
Myanmar's state television reported that the death toll from the May 3 cyclone had risen again, to 34,273, The Associated Press reported, with 27,838 missing. The toll has been increasing daily, as more and more of the missing are identified as dead. The United Nations has estimated that the toll could be more than 60,000.
Still, the junta was making some progress in accepting aid. Two more American relief flights landed Tuesday and United States officials said they were talking to the government about expanding the relief program. But Shari Villarosa, the top American diplomat in Myanmar, said the junta has refused the United States' offer to send in search-and-rescue teams and disaster-relief experts. The United States is conducting a military exercise together with Thailand and has 11,000 troops in the area and several ships off the coast.
Ms. Villarosa also said the government had also rebuffed teams from China, Bangladesh, Singapore, Thailand and other countries. [read on...]
More news about Burma:
via Media Rations, Tuesday, May 13, 2008:
Daily stories of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis on the Burma coast and lowlands is leaving many of us frustrated and confused about the role that humanitarian aid can serve for the now estimated 1.5 million+ people faced with disease and starvation.
A source inside Burma, who is working with a few international and domestic aid agencies, writes to say that the situation is reaching potentially ruinous proportions and that the outcome could have a monumental affect on the political and administrative fabric of the junta-ruled country. [...]
via Washington Post:
American Admiral Takes Plea To Burma
Military Rulers Agree to Consider Major Relief Effort
By Amy Kazmin and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 13, 2008; Page A11
BANGKOK, May 12 -- The head of the U.S. Pacific Command flew into Burma on Monday aboard the first U.S. military aid flight, to press for a full-scale international relief operation for victims of Cyclone Nargis. Facing mounting international pressure to open their country's borders, Burmese officials promised to consider the request.
In New York, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed "immense frustration" with the pace of the relief effort, slowed by Burma's secretive military government. After trying for days to get top general Than Shwe on the telephone, Ban said, he sent a letter urging him to facilitate a massive aid operation. [read on...]
via BBC News, Page last updated at 14:40 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 15:40 UK:
Relief for those affected by Cyclone Nargis has been slow to arrive
The United Nations has called for an air or sea corridor to be opened to channel large amounts of aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma.
The UN's humanitarian agency said there was a risk of a "second catastrophe" unless a massive operation began.
The UN said it had only been able to reach nearly a fifth of about 1.5m people in urgent need. The official death toll has now reached 34,273.
Burma's junta is still opposed to the entry of foreign aid workers.
Vice-Admiral Soe Thein said the government was grateful for the aid shipment from the United States that arrived on Monday but insisted that "skilful humanitarian workers are not necessary". [read on...]
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