Sunday, May 10, 2009

အေဟာင္းေပမယ့္ ဟုတ္လို ့တင္လိုက္တယ္ အျပင္းေျပေပါ့

Correspondents in Rangoon | May 10, 2008
Article from: The Australian
THE Burmese junta last night seized all the relief aid the UN World Food Program had flown into the country even as survivors of Cyclone Nargis waited for food, shelter and medicine.

The move by Burma's generals left the WFP with no choice but to suspend the aid operation, already staggering under the obstruction of the regime.

WFP spokesman Paul Risley said last night that all "the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated". The shipment included 38 tonnes of high-energy biscuits. Mr Risley said it was not clear why the material was seized, but he had earlier blasted the junta, saying its refusal to let in foreign aid workers was "unprecedented" in the history of humanitarian work.

While the junta dithered and appeared overwhelmed by the disaster - the worst in the country's recorded history - more than a million homeless people waited for food, shelter and medicine, many crammed in Buddhist monasteries or camped in the open.

The junta said yesterday it was grateful for international assistance, which has included 11 chartered planes loaded with aid supplies. But the best way to help was to send in material rather than personnel.

It said one UN relief flight from Qatar was sent back after landing in Rangoon on Thursday because it carried a search-and-rescue team and media who did not have permission to enter the country.

More than 62,000 people are known to have died or are missing from Nargis, which hit the country's Irrawaddy Delta last Saturday. Shari Villarosa, who heads the US embassy in Rangoon, said the number of dead could eventually exceed 100,000 because of illnesses. Health experts are now scrambling to prevent the spread of diseases such as malaria, with outbreaks already surfacing in areas hardest hit. Early estimates indicate 20 per cent of children in the most devastated areas are suffering from diarrhoea, and the situation could worsen, said Osamu Kunii, UNICEF's chief of health and nutrition in Burma.

The isolationist regime has refused to grant visas to foreign aid workers who could assess the extent of the disaster and manage the logistics. Mr Risley said earlier the organisation had submitted 10 visa applications around the world, including six in Bangkok, but none has been approved.

Even if the Government changes its mind, there is no hope of getting any visas in Bangkok until Monday because a Thai holiday yesterday shut the Burmese embassy, he said.

"The frustration caused by what appears to be a paperwork delay is unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts," Mr Risley said.

But there was no sign the junta was relenting. "Myanmar has prioritised receiving emergency relief provisions and making strenuous effort delivering it with its own labour to the affected areas," a statement by the junta said. "(But) Myanmar is not ready to receive rescue and media teams from foreign countries."

Critical aid and experts are poised in neighbouring Thailand and elsewhere to rush into one of the world's poorest nations.

Burma has also snubbed a US offer to help. The US has ruled out conducting aerial food drops without the junta's permission, after calls for the international community to proceed with the relief effort regardless of Burma's position. But US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Washington was "prepared to help ... and it would be a tragedy if these assets" were not used.

It is not clear how much aid will reach the Irrawaddy Delta where entire villages have been submerged with bodies floating in salty water and children ripped from their parents arms.

By rejecting US aid, the junta is refusing to take advantage of Washington's enormous ability to deliver aid quickly, which was evident during the 2004 tsunami.

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