Author Topic: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die  (Read 25803 times)

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Offline MikiQuick123

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The Associated Press


    * Official media: 10000 dead in 1 town from Myanmar cyclone
      The Associated Press - 34 minutes ago
    * Myanmar Cyclone Death Toll Reaches 10000, Junta Says (Update1)
      Bloomberg - 4 hours ago
    * From the Los Angeles Times
      Chicago Tribune - 6 hours ago

Full coverage »
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Official media: 10,000 dead in 1 town from Myanmar cyclone

42 minutes ago

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's official media said Tuesday that 10,000 people were killed by a cyclone in just one town, confirming fears of a spiraling death toll from the storm's 12-foot tidal surges and high winds that swept away bamboo homes in low-lying coastal regions.

The ruling junta, an authoritarian regime which cut the nation off from the international community for decades, appealed for foreign aid to help in the recovery from Saturday's disaster, the country's deadliest storm on record.

The casualty count has been rising quickly as authorities reach hard-hit islands and villages in the Irrawaddy delta, the country's major rice-producing region, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Nargis's 120-mile-per hour winds.

Myanmar Foreign Minister told diplomats in Yangon Monday that, overall, more than 10,000 people may have died when Cyclone Nargis struck Saturday.

But on Tuesday, state television confirmed fears of a rapidly rising toll, reporting that 10,000 perished in the town of Bogalay in the country's Irrawaddy delta.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's government said Monday more than 10,000 people were feared killed in a cyclone that unleashed 12-foot tidal surges and high winds that swept away bamboo homes in low-lying coastal regions, cutting off electricity and water in the country's largest city.

The ruling junta, an authoritarian regime which cut the nation off from the international community for decades, appealed for foreign aid to help in the recovery from Saturday's disaster, the country's deadliest storm on record.

The casualty count has been rising quickly as authorities reach hard-hit islands and villages in the Irrawaddy delta, the country's major rice-producing region, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Nargis's 120-mile-per hour winds.

Residents of Yangon, the former capital of 6.5 million, said they were angry the government failed to adequately warn them of the approaching storm and has so far done little to alleviate their plight.

"The government misled people. They could have warned us about the severity of the coming cyclone so we could be better prepared," said Thin Thin, a grocery store owner.

Some in Yangon complained the 400,000-strong military was only clearing streets where the ruling elite resided, while leaving residents, including Buddhist monks, to cope on their own against the huge tangles of uprooted trees.

"There are some army trucks out to clear the roads, but most of the work was done with a dah (knife) by the people. Some of these tree trunks are 4-feet thick," said Barry Broman, a retired U.S. State Department officer who was in Yangon when the cyclone struck. "Thousands of trees were uprooted. All the roads were blocked by the trees."

If the numbers are accurate, the death toll would be the highest from a natural disaster in southeast Asia since the tsunami of December 2004, which killed 229,866 people as it devastated coastlines in Indonesia, Thailand and other parts of southeast and south Asia. In the wake of the tsunami, an extensive early warning system was established in the Pacific region.

A Myanmar state radio station said 3,939 people perished as high winds and huge storm surges battered coastal areas, with another 2,879 people reported missing in a single delta town, Bogalay, 60 miles south of Yangon.

However, Foreign Minister Nyan Win told Yangon-based diplomats the death toll could rise to more than 10,000 in the region, which sits barely above sea level, according to Asian diplomats who attended the meeting.

Hundreds of thousands were left homeless and without clean drinking water, said Richard Horsey, a spokesman in Bangkok for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The diplomats said they were told Myanmar, also known as Burma, welcomed international humanitarian aid, including urgently needed roofing materials, medicine, water purifying tablets and mosquito nets. The first 10-ton shipment was scheduled to arrive from Thailand on Tuesday.

The appeal for outside assistance was unusual for Myanmar's ruling generals, who have long been suspicious of international organizations and closely controlled their activities. Several agencies, including the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, have limited their presence as a consequence.

Allowing any major influx of foreigners could carry risks for the military, injecting unwanted outside influence and giving the aid givers rather than the junta credit for a recovery.

However, keeping out international aid would focus blame squarely on the military should it fail to restore peoples' livelihoods.

Although relief talks with the government were still ongoing, the U.N.'s Horsey said it appeared the U.N. had the "green light" to send in a team to assess the storm's damage as early as Tuesday, and would pull out all the stops to send in food, clean water, blankets and plastic sheeting.

In Washington, first lady Laura Bush said the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar had authorized an emergency contribution of $250,000 to help with relief efforts and was prepared to provide more if the government allows a U.S. disaster assistance response team to enter the country to assess needs.

"Although they were aware of the threat, Burma's state-run media failed to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path. The response to this cyclone is just the most recent example of the junta's failures to meet its people's basic needs," she said.

Washington has long been one of the ruling junta's sharpest critics for its poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a democratically elected government.

The cyclone came just a week before a crucial referendum on a military-backed constitution, and the government's ineffectual warning system and inefficient effort to recover from it so far, could sway angry voters to reject the charter.

"The combination of the cyclone and the referendum within a few days of each other makes an angry population angrier and vulnerable and makes the political situation more volatile" than it has been since massive pro-democracy demonstrations last September, said Monique Skidmore, a Myanmar expert at Australian National University.

The government apparently made little effort to prepare for the storm, which came bearing down from the Bay of Bengal late Friday. Although warnings were broadcast on television that 120-mph winds and 12-foot storm surges were predicted, no guidance was given about taking shelter.

In any case, the electricity supply is so spotty in Myanmar that few households, especially in the poor rural areas that were worst hit, would have been aware of the televised warnings.

The government has given no explanation for the high death toll, but most people in the worst-hit region live in fragile bamboo homes with thatch or zinc roofs, which would have been swept way with their inhabitants by the onrushing tidal surge.

Even in Yangon, the country's biggest, most modern city, residents were shocked by the destruction.

"We heard the big bangs and then I looked out on the balcony, I couldn't stand there, but I saw things coming down from the roof. Trees were falling which have stood there for a long time," said Sweden's former integration minister, Jens Orback, who was in the city when the cyclone hit.

"And in our hotel, the ceiling came in with glass and the lights and it turned black," he told AP Television News.

Yangon, where officials said 59 people died, was without electricity except where gas-fed generators were available and residents lined up to buy candles at double last week's prices.

With pumps not working, most homes were without water, forcing families to stand in long lines for drinking water and bath in the city's lakes.

"Once the storm subsided, people were walking out to assess the damage and were shocked at everything around them," said Pamela Sitko, communication relief manager for the Asia-Pacific region for the aid agency World Vision. "One 11-year-old boy said he had to run backwards to take shelter in a school during the storm because the wind was so strong." World Vision, like other aid agencies, was negotiating with the government to try to arrange an airlift of aid.

"The biggest concern is communication because the electricity is down, running water has stopped, phone lines are down and it is difficult to assess the real needs because we can't reach the outer-lying regions," Sitko said.

With the city plunged into almost total darkness overnight, security concerns mounted, and many shops sold their goods through partially opened doors or iron grills. Looting was reported at several fresh food markets, where thieves took vegetables and other items.

At Yangon's notorious Insein prison, 36 prisoners were killed and about 70 others wounded when guards opened fire during a moment of chaos when the storm hit Saturday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist exile group based in Thailand.

Diplomats in Yangon gave a similar account, although a government official denied there were any deaths. Nearby residents said there had been a fire at the prison, but knew no other details.

Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962. Its government has been widely criticized for suppression of pro-democracy parties such as the one led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for almost 12 of the past 18 years.

Associated Press writers Grant Peck and Denis D. Gray in Bangkok, Thailand, Carley Petesch in New York and Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report.
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Offline Biggs

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Re: 10,000 Dead In One Town From Myanmar Cyclone
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 08:14:10 am »

Burma's cyclone death toll soars

Buddhist nuns walk past a fallen tree in Rangoon (4 May 2008)

Burma's capital Rangoon is one of the areas worst-affected by the cyclone

The death toll from Burma's devastating cyclone has now risen to more than 22,000, state media say.

Some 41,000 people were also missing, three days after Cyclone Nargis hit the country on Saturday, state radio said.

The announcement came as international aid agencies pushed to launch a massive operation in the worst-affected areas of the country.

Hundreds of thousands of people are said to be without clean water and shelter, with some areas still cut off.

New video shows the force of the cyclone which ripped through Burma

State media reported on Tuesday that 22,464 people had now been confirmed as dead.

Earlier, Burmese officials said that up to 15,000 people had died.

More deaths were caused by the tidal wave than the cyclone itself, Minister for Relief and Resettlement Maung Maung Swe told reporters in Rangoon.

"The wave was up to 12ft (3.5m) high and it swept away and inundated half the houses in low-lying villages," he said. "They did not have anywhere to flee."

Some 95% of the homes in the city of Bogalay in the Irrawaddy river delta were destroyed, he added.


Eyewitness: After the cyclone
Crucial test for junta

Burma's military leaders have said they will accept external help, in a move that correspondents say could reflect the scale of the disaster.

The military junta has said it will postpone to 24 May a referendum on a new constitution in areas worst-hit by the cyclone - including the former capital Rangoon and the Irrawaddy Delta, state television said on Tuesday.

But it said that the vote initially planned for 10 May would proceed as planned in the rest of the country.

Offline Biggs

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photos from the cyclone devastation in Burma

22,000 dead, 40,000 missing,5538,31231,00.html

Offline Biggs

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2008, 06:39:40 am »

Whole towns wiped out as Burma death toll soars

Bush urges leadership to accept US help as officials declare at least 22,000 dead
    * Ian MacKinnon, South-east Asia correspondent and Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
    * The Guardian,
    * Wednesday May 7 2008

The toll from the Burmese cyclone disaster continued to rise yesterday as the government announced that 22,000 were dead and 41,000 missing, while aid agencies warned many more could die if assistance could not be delivered quickly.

Relief workers who penetrated the worst-hit areas in the rice-growing belt of the Irrawaddy delta south-west of the main city, Rangoon, talked of hundreds of bodies strewn about the paddy fields. The Burmese government identified 15 townships in the Irrawaddy delta that had suffered worst. Seven of them had lost 90 to 95% of their homes with 70% of their population dead or missing. One community, Bogalay, was said to have been wiped out, with 10,000 people feared dead.

"We have a major humanitarian catastrophe on our hands," said Chris Kaye, Burma country director for the UN's World Food Programme.

"The numbers are harrowing. Certainly, we know that in areas in the southern delta, towns like Bogalay and Laputta were very, very badly affected by the storm surge. A surge in low-lying areas coupled with high winds served to flatten areas, taking villages and villagers with it. It's a tragic and serious situation."

Burma's normally secretive regime was forced to go public with the scale of the humanitarian crisis. The information minister, Kyaw Hsan, staged a rare news conference where he admitted the authorities were struggling to cope with a disaster starting to rival Asia's worst cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1991, killing 143,000.

"The task is very wide and extensive and the government needs the cooperation of the people and wellwishers from at home and abroad," he said. "We will not hide anything."

But despite the Burmese authorities' pleas for help international aid agencies were still having difficulty yesterday securing visas for their workers. Food aid has been dispatched but is not clear whether import duties will have to be paid for it and whether the government will insist on controlling its distribution.

Link to this audio
Ian MacKinnon on aid trickling into Burma

The US, which pledged $3m (£1.5m) to UN agencies to help with emergency food distribution, has navy ships in the area which Washington said could be used in the aid distribution effort, but the Burmese government, which accuses the US of fomenting revolt in Burma, is unlikely to allow them to enter its waters.

President George Bush appealed yesterday to the junta: "Let the US come and help you." However, the regime is unlikely to have been impressed by the occasion he used to make the announcement, signing legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The EU announced it was giving €2m (£1.5m) to the aid effort, while China said it would give $1m.

The authoritarian regime, which has held power for 46 years, did however make one concession. It relented over plans to hold a controversial constitutional referendum on Saturday, which analysts said would cement the generals' hold on power. The government said it would be delayed until May 24 in the worst-hit areas of Rangoon and the Irrawaddy delta.

Given the unprecedented scale of the havoc wrought by the 13ft storm surge and catastrophic winds that battered the low-lying area that grows most of Burma's rice, the two-week delay appeared optimistic.

"We're talking of something on the scale of the tsunami," said Andrew Kirkwood, Burma country director for Save the Children. "Initially we thought we were looking at a response over a couple of months, but now it looks like a couple of years."

Teams from the agency have been in the outlying areas of Rangoon and Irrawaddy region assessing the true extent of the destruction to gauge the level of need. But with so many homes resembling piles of matchwood the task of providing for the survivors of a storm that affected more than a quarter of Burma's 53 million population is mind-boggling.

Infrastructure in the broad swath of low-lying coastal area has been devastated, with hulking iron and concrete bridges that straddle the countless waterways turned into heaps of twisted junk.

Boats that served as a lifeline for the delta's inhabitants sank in the storm, leaving aid agencies scrambling to get relief to those survivors among the 1 million homeless who have already spent four days braving the elements.

"It's going to be a massive logistical operation and very, very difficult," said Save the Children's Kirkwood. "The scale of the disaster is unprecedented in living memory in these areas."

With the onset of the rainy season the priority for the agencies with teams in the country already is providing shelter, in the form of plastic sheeting, and clean drinking water to prevent an outbreak of waterborne disease.

Tens of thousands of people have been sheltering in schools, temples and monasteries, making the provision of sanitation a pressing need.

Teams from aid agencies already operating in the country have started distributing food, cooking utensils, mosquito nets and even cash in some areas where people are still able to buy food, though prices have jumped between 50% and 100%.

"We hope to fly in more assistance within the next 48 hours," said Paul Risley, WFP spokesman in Bangkok. "The challenge will be getting to the affected areas with road blockages everywhere."

Even in Rangoon the situation remains bleak, though the roads were being slowly cleared of the debris of fallen trees and telegraph poles.

"Basically the services are all down," said Mark Canning, the British ambassador in Rangoon. "There's no electricity, no telephone, no water and very little food. Drinking water is in very short supply. But the crucial thing is the diesel needed to keep backup pumps going."

Thailand was among those trying to alleviate the tragedy, flying in another plane load of supplies yesterday, while India said it was loading two naval vessels to carry emergency aid to the Irrawaddy area. A host of others including Singapore, China, Japan the EU and US, have also pledged support.


Offline darsie

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2008, 07:12:06 am »
Myanmar is a nasty - vicious dictatorship where the people are ruthlessly kept down and exploited by the military.(killing - detention - torture - rape - abuse is common amongst the military)

In late November - U.N. envoy Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said as many as 110 were believed to have been killed during the demonstrations - including 40 Buddhist monks.

Now following the cyclone there's no shortage of humanitarian intervention.

How about a military intervention?

Iraq - Afghanistan - Myanmar - now that would be something!

Offline Nailer

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2008, 07:16:53 am »
Oh boy here we go again.. Billions in aid of US taxpayers will be sent /spent to help these people and it the $$$ will end up in some dictators off shore bank account and help buy more weapons for their military, just like the aid money sent to Africa..
I am a realist that is slightly conservative yet I have some republican demeanor that can turn democrat when I feel the urge to flip independant.
The truth shall set you free, if not a 45ACP round will do the trick.. HEHE

Offline Biggs

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2008, 07:54:00 am »
actually much of the aid money is used to enforce economic imperialism by forcing countries to privatise health, education and ensuring that the likes of Monsanto get in and are allowed to dominate the local markets and production - pushing GMO etc etc.

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2008, 10:28:43 pm »

US Diplomat Says Burma Cyclone Deaths Could Exceed 100,000
By David Gollust
State Department
07 May 2008

The senior U.S. diplomat in Burma said Wednesday the death toll from the cyclone that hit the southeast Asian country late last week could exceed 100,000. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meawnhile says the United States is trying to mobilize countries in the region to press the Burmese government to admit more aid workers and supplies. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

A washed away house in Dedaye, some 48 kilometers south of Rangoon, 07 May 2008

A washed away house in Dedaye, some 48 kilometers south of Rangoon, 07 May 2008

The top U.S. diplomat in Burma says the situation in the stricken areas of the country is sounding more and more horrendous as reports of damage and casualties trickle in. She says when the final death toll emerges, there could be well over 100,000 fatalities.

American charge d'affaires in Rangoon Shari Villarosa spoke to Washington reporters in a telephone conference call, as the United States tried to maximize political leverage on the military government in Burma to accept more outside aid.

Officials here say U.S. diplomats have urged the governments of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, India and Japan, among others, to try to get the reclusive regime to respond adequately to what is being described here as a humanitarian disaster of immense scope.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice listens following meeting of Middle East peace Quartet, in London, 2 May  2008
Condoleezza Rice, 2 May  2008

At a press event with Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, Secretary of State Rice said she is gratified by the willingness of the international community to respond to the disaster but that the Burmese government has thus far largely refused outside help.

"What remains is for the Burmese government to allow the international community to help its people," she said. "It should be a simple mater. This is not a matter of politics. This is a matter of a humanitarian crisis. And it should be a matter that the government of Burma wants to see its people receive the help that is available to them."

The Bush administration has committed more than $3 million to cyclone relief and has indicated it is ready to provide considerably more, if Burma admits U.S. disaster teams to survey actual needs.

This recent undated photo received on 07 May 2008 shows cyclone affected families waiting for relief goods in makeshift houses in Labutta in the Irrawaddy division
This recent undated photo received on 07 May 2008 shows cyclone affected families waiting for relief goods in makeshift houses in Labutta in the Irrawaddy division
U.S. military assets in the region are also prepared to begin airlift and rescue operations in Burma. But the military government, which accuses the United States of trying subvert its rule, is considered unlikely to accept an American military presence on its soil.

U.S. diplomat Villarosa in Rangoon said the figure of 100,000 potential deaths - far higher than the current estimated toll - was based on contacts with relief groups.

She said working-level Burmese officials with whom she has been in contact realize that the country needs large-scale outside help.

But she said those in decision-making positions - 200 kilometers away in the new official capital in the town of Pyinmana - are removed from the situation and have yet to respond.

Villarosa said she doubts that U.S. criticism of the Burmese government's human rights record is a factor in its lack of response, and that it is what she termed a very paranoid regime that has traditionally been suspicious of the internatioanl community.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2008, 06:37:32 am »

Rotting corpses pile up as Myanmar stall over aid

    * Story Highlights
    * NEW: Rotting corpses pile up as military junta continues to drag feet
    * Four aid planes finally get permission to land in the devastated country
    * Lack of clean water, food and medical supplies prompt disease fears
    * U.N. official says nearly 2,000 square miles remains underwater

YANGON, Myanmar (CNN) -- Myanmar's cyclone survivors do not have enough fuel to burn the rotting corpses of the dead as the country's military junta continues to drag its feet over access for aid groups.

Relief agencies said decomposing corpses littered ditches and fields in the worst hit Irrawaddy delta area as survivors tried to conserve fuel for the transporting of much needed supplies.

The international community was growing increasingly frustrated Thursday with the junta's lack of progress in granting visas for relief workers and giving clearance for aid flights to land.

They were concerned the lack of medical supplies and clean food and water threatened to increase the already staggering death toll.

Myanmar's military government says more than 22,000 people died when the killer cyclone battered the country's low-lying delta region over the weekend. The top U.S. diplomat in the country said the toll could top 100,000.

Four World Food Programme (WFP) planes laden with supplies were finally given permission to land in the country Thursday, according to The Associated Press. The first, from Italy, landed Thursday morning.

"We have gotten valuable cooperation. The first steps have been taken," Bettina Luescher, a spokeswoman for the WFP, told CNN Thursday morning. "But it's taking too slow. It needs to go much quicker.

"We have lots of experience in situations like these. We know how to do this," WFP's Luescher said. "We just need the cooperation."

Paul Risley, another WFP spokesman, told CNN that there were reports of "civil unrest" in the worst-hit areas where people were scrambling for limited food supplies.

He said U.N. assessment teams had observed "large crowds gathering around shops -- the few that were open -- literally fighting over the chance to buy what food was available."

There were also reports of price gouging in urban areas around Yangon, Myanmar's largest city and former capital, Risley said.

Shari Villarosa, U.S. charge d'affaires in Yangon, said the "situation in the delta sounds more and more horrendous."

The delta region had few roads to begin with, many of them were now under water and the storm had washed away numerous bridges, Villarosa said.

PhotoLook at satellite pictures of the damage by the flooding »

CNN's Dan Rivers, one of the few international journalists to have visited the hardest-hit areas of Myanmar, said relief had not reached the people who needed it most.

"We're hearing dreadful stories of hundreds of dead bodies left lying in the fields, decomposing," he said. "These people need help immediately."

China urges Myanmar junta to 'open up'

Meanwhile, China urged close ally Myanmar to work with the international community to help overcome the disaster.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that it hoped the country would "cooperate with the international community" to help overcome the disaster quickly.

The U.S has also been pushing for access, pledging $3.25 million and offering to send U.S. Navy ships to the region to help relief efforts.

The U.S. military had already flown six helicopters on to a Thai airbase, as Washington awaits permission to go into the south Asian country, two senior military officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.

In addition, several C-130 cargo aircraft aboard the USS Essex, which was conducting an exercise in the region, were available for relief missions.

Eric John, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand, told AP Thursday that they had still not been given permission to send relief flights to Myanmar despite reports to the contrary.

The U.S. and other nations do not recognize the military junta -- which maintained control of the country even after 1990, when an opposition political party won victory in democratic elections. The country's name was changed from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. Learn more about Myanmar's recent history »

Aid strategy: Don't 'flood' Yangon

Gregory Beck, of the International Rescue Committee, said the struggle to get aid workers and supplies into the country continued.

"We can't delay on this -- this is a huge disaster and the longer [Myanmar] waits the worse it's going to become." VideoWatch a report from Rivers on the growing desperation in Myanmar »

Myanmar's government has asked for international aid, but the junta has balked at allowing assessment teams into the country -- a step that most agencies and countries take before deciding how much and what kind of aid to provide.

The strategy is not to "flood Yangon" with aid workers, but get 30 to 40 experienced U.N staffers into the country, according to Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"It's quality over quantity," he said from his office in Bangkok.

Horsey said Myanmar's government "is more open to goods" rather than aid workers, but said it was understandable considering the military regime's "reticence to engage with the international community." But he pointed out that such a major disaster "would overwhelm any government."

Horsey said the regime had provided a number of helicopters and a larger number of boats to the relief effort.

He said the main hurdle was getting them into the flood-soaked delta, where nearly 2,000 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) remained underwater.

"When vast areas are flooded.. helicopters can't land," Horsey said. "When you get down to the tip of the delta, it's not much above sea level. When you get a major storm surge ... it doesn't drain back again."

The problem, he said, was compounded by the current monsoon period in South Asia.

One of the hardest-hit areas is Pyinzalu, a small town on the tip of the Irrawaddy delta, which has not fully recovered from the 2004 tsunami, according to World Vision health advisor Dr. Kyi Minn in Yangon.

Survivors from the delta villages described bodies along the road and floating in the rivers as they walked more than 100 kilometers to Yangon. That, Minn said, has had a significant mental impact on the survivors.

Yangon was pretty much back to normal, he said. Roads had been cleared of debris, and electricity and potable water were available. VideoWatch a report on the damage to Myanmar's infrastructure »

World Vision, which has 500 aid workers in Myanmar, has provided aid in the country for more than 40 years. In a rare move, Myanmar's junta specifically asked World Vision to help provide aid to cyclone survivors.
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"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2008, 11:39:37 pm »

Southeast Asia
     May 10, 2008
The case for invading Myanmar
By Shawn W Crispin

BANGKOK - With United States warships and air force planes at the ready, and over 1 million of Myanmar's citizens left bedraggled, homeless and susceptible to water-borne diseases by Cyclone Nagris, the natural disaster presents an opportunity in crisis for the US.

A unilateral - and potentially United Nations-approved - US military intervention in the name of humanitarianism could easily turn the tide against the impoverished country's unpopular military leaders, and simultaneously rehabilitate the legacy of lame-duck US


President George W Bush's controversial pre-emptive military policies.

Myanmar's ruling junta has responded woefully to the cyclone disaster, costing more human lives than would have been the case with the approval of a swift international response. One week after the killer storm first hit, Myanmar's junta has only now allowed desperately needed international emergency supplies to trickle in. It continues to resist US and UN disaster relief and food aid personnel from entering the country. Officially, 60,000 people have died; the figure is probably closer to 100,000.

The US is prepared to deliver US$3.25 million in initial assistance for survivors, which if allowed by the junta could be rapidly delivered to the worst-hit areas using US Air Force and naval vessels, including the US C-130 military aircraft now in neighboring Thailand, and the USS Kitty Hawk and USS Nimitz naval warships, currently on standby in nearby waters.

With the host government's approval, the US military led the multinational emergency response to the 2004 tsunami, including in the politically sensitive, majority Muslim areas of Aceh, Indonesia. The response to Myanmar's tragedy, in comparison, is being undermined by the play of international power politics, including most notably the military government's antagonistic relations with the US.

Washington has long-held economic sanctions against the regime, which were recently enhanced through financial sanctions against individual junta members, their families and business associates. Despite the economic suffering the sanctions have had on the grassroots population, many Myanmar citizens support the measures against their perceived abusive government, according to one Myanmar researcher. Early last year, the US tried to have Myanmar's abysmal rights record put onto the UN Security Council's agenda, but the motion was later vetoed by Myanmar allies China and Russia.

In the wake of the cyclone, the criminality of the junta's callous policies has taken on new human proportions in full view of the global community. Without a perceived strong UN-led response to the natural disaster, hard new questions will fast arise about the UN's own relevance and ability to manage global calamities.

This week, French Foreign Minister Bernard Koucher suggested that the UN invoke its so-called "responsibility to protect" civilians as legitimate grounds to force aid delivery, regardless of the military government's objections. On Friday, a UN spokesman called the junta's refusal to issue visas to aid workers "unprecedented" in the history of humanitarian work.

Because of the UN's own limited powers of projection, such a response would require US military management and assets. US officials appear to be building at least a rhetorical case for a humanitarian intervention. While offering relief and aid with one hand, top US officials have with the other publicly slapped at the Myanmar government's lame response to the disaster.

Shari Villarosa, head of the US Embassy in Yangon, has challenged the veracity of the government's official death count, telling reporters that storm-related casualties could eventually exceed 100,000 at a time the junta claimed 22,500 had perished. The junta has since revised up its official death toll figure to around 60,000.

US First Lady Laura Bush, who last year publicly goaded Myanmar's population to rise up against the military junta during the "Saffron" revolution, has in the wake of the cyclone revived her criticisms, referring to the government as "inept" and claiming that despite it receiving forewarning it failed to alert its citizens of the impending cyclone.

"It should be a simple matter," said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, referring to the junta's refusal to allow foreign aid workers into the country. "It's not a matter of politics. It's a matter of a humanitarian crisis."

Armed and ready
Should the junta continue to resist foreign assistance while social and public health conditions deteriorate in clear view of global news audiences, the moral case for a UN-approved, US-led humanitarian intervention will grow. Fistfights have already reportedly broken out over food supplies in Yangon, raising the risk that Myanmar troops could soon be called to put down unrest in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Last September, Myanmar's army opened fire against and killed an unknown number of street demonstrators.

Apart from putting significant US military assets on standby, there are no indications yet that President George W Bush or the Pentagon is preparing a unilateral rescue operation. Yet policymakers in Washington are now no doubt weighing the potential pros and cons of a pre-emptive humanitarian mission in a geo-strategically pivotal and suddenly weakened country that Bush administration officials have recently and repeatedly referred to as an "outpost of tyranny".

Within that policy matrix, the deteriorating situation presents a unique opportunity for Bush to burnish his foreign policy legacy. Some note that a US military response to Myanmar's humanitarian crisis would follow in the footsteps of Bush's presidential father, George H W Bush, who after declaring victory over the Soviet Union's communist threat, moved to demonstrate to the post-Cold War world that US military might would be a force for global good.

That included his government's US military-led humanitarian aid mission in civil war- and famine-struck Somalia in August 1992 that morphed later in the same year into a full-blown US Marine invasion of the capital Mogadishu, including the airport and main port, to protect the integrity of future aid deliveries from marauding militias. That military mission was mostly abandoned by 1993 after fierce fighting between US troops and Somali militias, while television images of a slain US soldier being dragged through Mogadishu's streets took the idealistic edge off the supposedly humanitarian military exercise.

This time, it is almost sure-fire that Myanmar's desperate population would warmly welcome a US-led humanitarian intervention, considering that its own government is now withholding emergency supplies. Like his father then, Bush is now clearly focused on his presidential legacy, which to date will be judged harshly due to his government's controversial pre-emptive military policies, waged until now exclusively in the name of fighting global terror.

In an era when the US routinely launches pre-emptive military strikes, including its 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 2003 Predator drone assassination attack against an alleged al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, a similar drone attack in 2006 in northwestern Pakistan, and last week's attack against a reputed al-Qaeda ringleader in Somalia, it is not inconceivable that the US might yet intervene in military-run Myanmar, particularly if in the days ahead the social and political situation tilts towards anomie.

Whether or not a US military intervention in the name of humanitarianism would, as in Somalia, eventually morph into an armed attempt at regime change and nation-building would likely depend on the population's and Myanmar military's response to the first landing of US troops. Some political analysts speculate that Myanmar's woefully under-resourced and widely unpopular troops would defect en masse rather than confront US troops.

While Myanmar ally China would likely oppose a US military intervention, Beijing has so far notably goaded the junta to work with rather than against international organizations like the UN, and more to the point, it lacks the power projection capabilities to militarily challenge the US in a foreign theater. Most notably, the US would have at its disposal a globally respected and once democratically elected leader in Aung San Suu Kyi to lead a transitional government to full democracy.

Many have speculated that Myanmar's notoriously paranoid junta abruptly moved the national capital 400 kilometers north from Yangon to its mountain-rung redoubt at Naypyidaw in November 2005 due to fears of a possible pre-emptive US invasion, similar to the action against Iraq. Now, Cyclone Nagris and the government's woeful response to the disaster have suddenly made that once paranoid delusion into a strong pre-emptive possibility, one that Bush's lame-duck presidency desperately needs.

Shawn W Crispin is Asia Times Online's Southeast Asia Editor. He may be reached at [email protected]
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline darsie

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Re: Myanmar - 10,000 Dead In One Town, 22,000 dead, 40,000 missing
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2008, 02:53:20 am »
Of course - without transparency - the numbers don't really make much sense. Could there be other reasons the Burmese generals would alter numbers?

This at a time when most nations have cut off all aid to the Junta.

This happened with HIV numbers in Africa to increase aid.

Also the opposite has happened - N. Korea and Cambodia (under K.R) not telling about internal starvation to appear as though they didn't need anyone else's help.

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2008, 12:30:14 am »,8599,1739439,00.html

Monday, May. 12, 2008
After the Cyclone: Fear and Disease
By A TIME correspondent/Laputta

Aung Than Htay's injuries seem slight until he tells you how he got them. The arms of the 30-year-old fisherman are grazed from wrists to armpits. A week before, he had clung to the trunk of a palm tree as a 12-foot storm surge carried off his wife, his infant son, and his four-year-old daughter. "My wife tried to hold on to my waist, but the water dragged her away," he says. He clung to the tree for three hours. When he finally descended, the water in his village of Ka Ka Yon still came up to his chest. He found the body of his seven-year-old daughter at the foot of the tree. He never found the rest of his family.

Aung Than Htay is walking along the road to Laputta, a cylone-shattered delta town teeming with tens of thousands of refugees. Before Cyclone Nargis hit, the population of this sleepy riverside town was 30,000. With the hungry, homeless and bereaved pouring in from the delta — 80,000 have perished in this district alone, according to local aid workers — that refugee population has now reached six figures.

"I've had long experience of emergencies and I've never seen anything like this," says Julio Sosa Calo, head of mission in Laputta for the German relief group Malteser International. "We need a huge humanitarian response. What we're doing now is too little compared to the need." There are now 58 camps in town, most of them set up in temples, monasteries and schools. More survivors arrive every day. "To be honest, we're all a bit lost when it comes to numbers," confesses Sosa Calo. "People know that this is the place where they can get assistance, so they're coming in huge numbers."

Laputta should be the center for a gargantuan relief effort. Should be, but isn't. Trucks carrying food and water ply the rough road leading to this isolated town, but not in the large convoys associated with a disaster of this scale. Laputta's buildings are collapsed or roofless, its streets clogged with fallen trees, smashed boats, and the rain-soaked debris of thousands of desperate families. Local aid workers estimate that 12,000 people have died and 3,000 are missing in Laputta town and its immediate surroundings.

There are tens of thousands more in need in even more remote parts of the district, but the few foreign agencies in town are struggling to help them. "We don't have the means," says Sosa Calo. "To reach affected areas we have to use the river. And most of the boats in the area were destroyed by the cyclone." One area in Laputta district called Pyin Sa Lu was hit badly by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which destroyed houses and almost certainly lives (the junta released no data), then struck again by Cyclone Nargis. This time, more than 10,000 people died.

The military has forbidden expatriate aid workers from entering such areas. Local fishermen have been instructed not to take foreigners on their boats. According to one aid agency, soldiers have told villagers that any foreigner seen in this forbidden zone during the day will be turned around, and if seen during the night, they will be shot. "Basic needs are not being met, particularly in remote areas, which are difficult to access without boats," says a Western aid worker who asked not to be named. But these logistical problems could be overcome "without much difficulty if it weren't for the [junta's] restrictions."

Many survivors in the outlying regions are sticking close to the ruins of their homes in case missing family members show up. But more than 10 days after the cyclone hit, that is unlikely. "Missing means dead," says a Burmese health expert returning from Laputta. "They're not coming back."

Other survivors are staying put in an attempt to recultivate their land. Rice scheduled to be planted in the coming weeks has to be harvested in October, by far the biggest of the twice-yearly crops. But the farmers face appalling odds. Their fields are inundated with sea water and there are no pumps to drain them; the buffalo that pull their wooden plows are drowned. Laputta resident Myint Shwe tells how the cyclone claimed 20 of his cows and buffalo, wrecked his house, and destroyed his boat. He can now only plow his land "if the government gives us equipment," he says. "No equipment, no rice." He is unlikely to get it. He and his large family have yet to receive aid of any kind.

Fishermen face grave challenges too. Their boats are smashed or sunken. The powerful cyclone shifted sandbanks into unknown positions, making once-familiar waterways perilous to navigate. And everywhere human bodies float uncollected. Another Laputta aid worker counted 45 corpses in an hourlong voyage through the delta. "The smell is terrible," he says. With all the rain, bodies hastily buried in village graveyards by relatives are now resurfacing.

These terrible conditions could drive thousands more to flee to overcrowded camps in Laputta town. Every square foot of sheltered space at Lay Htat monastery is occupied by survivors — perhaps as many as 8,000, estimates Malteser, which runs a small clinic there. Most are children. Hundreds of people sit on scraps of plastic or tin laid out on the mud beneath the monastery, which rests on stilts. There are hundreds more sleeping in the floor above and in other buildings on the compound. Some are surrounded by what few possessions they could salvage. Others have nothing at all. Some women are boiling their precious rice on small fires, and the air is thick with wood smoke. One man taps my shoulder and points to his mouth: no food. Children refill plastic drinking bottles from large ceramic jars full of murky water.

A week ago, most new patients at Laputta hospital were being treated for cyclone injuries, such as lacerations and bone fractures. Some men have what look like serious burns or grazes on their backs. They had hunched over to protect themselves during the cyclone, and the rain and wind had sandblasted the skin from their shoulders.

Injury cases have since tailed off. These days, a quarter of new patients have diarrhea. Now, lack of shelter increases the risk of respiratory disease. The cramped conditions provide the perfect conditions for disease to spread, although there have been no epidemics. "Not yet," says Alexandra Piprek, a doctor with Malteser. "Give it a few days and we'll see. The concentration of people is very high." Piprek also fears for the mental health of the survivors. Some are showing signs of trauma, such as listlessness or hyperactivity. "Many people have lost everything," she says.

Only a handful of foreign aid agencies — including UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Merlin — are now working in Laputta, and all had a strong presence in Burma before the cyclone hit. With the junta barring access to many expatriate aid workers, the Burmese citizens on their staff are vital. Unlike foreigners, their movements in the delta is not restricted, at least not yet. Julio Sosa Calo says that more of Malteser's Burmese experts — including a second doctor, a nurse and three water and sanitation specialists — would arrive in the coming days.

But the massive influx of aid and aid workers has yet to begin, despite the delta's increasing needs. Take the road north from Laputta and you arrive at Maungmya, where there are another 12,900 refugees in 27 camps, estimates Save the Children. Walk Laputta's streets, and you move through a gloomy landscape of sodden brown debris where the only bright color — a flash of electric green — brings no comfort. They are rice seedlings which these farmers would have soon been planting. Scattered by the cyclone, watered by the heavy rains since, they now sprout useless amid the ruins.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2008, 12:37:21 am »
The Christian Science Monitor    
In Burma, a frustrated quiet
Without aid coming along Burma's Asian Highway, Burmese head east to find help.
By Christopher Johnson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

from the May 13, 2008 edition

Myawaddy, Burma -
The Asian Highway should be jammed with a convoy of trucks carrying aid supplies from the Thai border west to the devastated Burmese commercial capital of Rangoon, 250 miles away. Instead, boys on inner tubes paddle across the Moei River, delivering Thai goods to Burmese waiting on the other side.

The government of Burma (Myanmar), criticized for blocking foreign aid, is also preventing Burmese doctors, nurses, soldiers, and citizens from helping their compatriots, in sharp contrast to the massive volunteer spirit that swept across Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka immediately after the 2004 tsunami.

On the Asian Highway, most traffic is coming east from Rangoon as the ripple effect of the high winds and sea, which killed people in the southern delta, spreads across the country.

Burmese truck drivers say 500 to 600 people are fleeing every day from Rangoon, where they lack food and water, to the Karen state capital of Hpa-an, some eight hours away. Residents here in Myawaddy say they expect greater flows of people in coming weeks and months.

But even in eastern Burma, this new wave of refugees is finding food shortages and skyrocketing prices, as sellers profiteer from panic. The Thai government has long wanted to expand and pave the Asian Highway all the way across to the Indian border, as they have upgraded roads from Thailand deep into Cambodia and Laos. Instead, drivers say, the Asian Highway is a narrow sliver of dirt or chipped pavement that only allows one-way flow of traffic to go down the mountain one day, and up the next. Armed soldiers at checkpoints every couple of miles outside Myawaddy turn back foreigners and arrest or fine Burmese without travel permits.

"I could get 20 years in jail for taking people illegally," says a driver, who recently bought a Toyota from Thailand. He charges passengers at least 5,000 kyat, or about $6, for a one-way trip. "The soldiers are very strict on this highway," he says. "Burmese people are not allowed to move freely like in other countries."

Even Burmese soldiers, who were unusually friendly to this foreign reporter, say they are frustrated about being unable to help in the south. "We have to stay here and follow orders," says a young soldier, his teeth red from chewing betel nut. "We have to do our duties here."

Aid trickles in

The first UN aid convoy sent by land arrived Monday in Rangoon with supplies, including plastic sheets and tents, for some 10,000 people. It took two days for the trucks to reach Rangoon from the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

The United States also delivered 28,000 pounds of mosquito nets, blankets, and water on a C-130 cargo plane Monday. After returning to Thailand, Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the US Pacific Command, said that more support was ready, but stressed that the US would not act without Burmese permission to address a crisis in which as many as 100,000 may have died.

Henrietta Fore, of USAID, said that US officials, led by Admiral Keating, met with senior Burmese authorities at the airport. "[We] exchanged ideas on how we might assist," she said. "They showed us maps of where they had the greatest need."

Three US ships are expected near the coast soon. A French naval ship is also on standby.

But aid workers remained frustrated with the slow pace and lack of visas being issued, even as a major operation was being organized to provide aid on the level of the 2004 tsunami. The World Food Program said it had only 10 percent of the staff and equipment it needed inside Burma, severely hampering its ability to move aid.

UN officials said that seven Burmese military helicopters were running between Rangoon west to Pathein, a staging area. The junta is also using small boats and two larger ships to deliver aid, they said.

Openness in Myawaddy

There was an unusually open and friendly atmosphere in Myawaddy on Monday, with little overt presence of uniformed police or military. That was in sharp contrast to the soldiers who came out in force to urge people to vote yes in the referendum last Saturday,

Immigration officials at the Thai border were hospitable, and truck drivers criticized the regime in front of the border post. A rickshaw driver wore a khaki tank top saying "US Army," while a soldier in a green military hat wore a vest saying "US military." Many locals said they had hope for change when they saw US helicopters flying near the border over the weekend.

An elderly silver-haired man, Htay Myint, immediately began to criticize the ruling junta in loud voice in English outside a golden temple. "Are you a journalist? I was a journalist too," he said. "Spies are following us, but I don't care. Burmese people want you to tell the world that we need your help. Many people here have lost relatives in the delta. But the military government does not let us go to the cyclone area. They have no procedures to send supplies or staff such as doctors and nurses. In our own country, we don't have the right to go from this place to that place. What a pity."

Mr. Myint, who quit his post as a township official in Kachin state and fled to Myawaddy several years ago, says Burmese people are more desperate for change than ever before. With little access to foreign media, they don't believe the reports on Myanmar state TV of generals helping cyclone victims. "Yesterday was lieing. Today is lying. Tomorrow will be lying," he says in good English. "The government is not delivering the aid to victims. They have no etiquette. They are not educated. They have no ability to help. Aid will never reach the victims. The local authorities will take it, believe me. I know what they are. They must allow foreigners to come in. But they are afraid foreigners will send out true information."

Myint says Myawaddy would become a boomtown if foreign aid passed through here, the shortest route between Thailand and Yangon. But Monday, few people were seen shopping in the main market and in the hundreds of family-owned shops along the Asian Highway. Hit with rising fuel prices, people keep motorbikes inside. Lacking work, young males play billiards on street-side tables, while women with cheeks smeared in thanaka bark watch TV or crowd around shops with public phones, trying to contact relatives. New construction projects, such as the Starlight Hotel, remain unfinished.

Myint said the cost of an egg in Myawaddy has doubled since the cyclone.

"It's very bad now," he says. "Next year, there will be no rice at all growing in Irrawaddy division. We can't trust to get rice from Yangon authority. We have to depend on rice from Thailand."

Find this article at: | Copyright © 2008 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2008, 01:38:35 am »

Myanmar's cyclone survivors beg for help
Wed May 14, 2008 1:53am EDT

By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Desperation among Myanmar's 1.5 million cyclone survivors mounted on Wednesday as the international aid flow remained a trickle and police barred foreign aid workers from worst-hit areas.

The United Nations and Western powers piled more pressure on the military regime to speed up its slow and disorganized response to the disaster by suggesting that helpless victims could have been robbed of food and other urgent supplies.

The reports were unconfirmed, but the relief effort -- further complicated by heavy rains -- is only delivering one tenth of the supplies needed in the devastated delta region, where up to 100,000 people are dead or missing.

"It's just awful, people are in just desperate need, begging as vehicles go past," Gordon Bacon, an emergency coordinator for International Rescue Committee, told Reuters by phone from Yangon.

The international community has flown in tonnes of medicine, food and shelter materials, but getting it to low-lying delta area has been complicated by poor equipment, bad weather and government intransigence.

Myanmar's reclusive junta has also made it very clear it does not want outsiders distributing aid.

Foreign experts in sanitation, nutrition and medicine have either been prevented from entering the country formerly known as Burma or are restricted to the main city of Yangon.

Armed police send back foreigners who attempt to pass through checkpoints surrounding the former capital.

"It's such an immense area of devastation and so many people need help that I'm sure if these people could get in and be coordinated properly it would assist the effort dramatically," said Bacon. "There is frustration all around."


The international community has warned of an even greater tragedy if the aid effort is not ratcheted up.

In a statement after emergency talks on Myanmar in Brussels on Tuesday, EU development ministers called on Yangon "to offer free and unfettered access to international humanitarian experts, including the expeditious delivery of visa and travel permits."

The EU ministers stopped short of endorsing a French call to deliver supplies if necessary without the junta's permission.

France's junior minister for human rights said it had the backing of Britain and Germany to call on the U.N. Security Council for aid to be taken into Myanmar without the government's green light if necessary.

"We have called for the 'responsibility to protect' to be applied in the case of Burma," Rama Yade told reporters.

British officials said London would welcome discussion of the 'responsibility to protect,' a 2005 U.N. resolution conceived to assist victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but not natural disasters.

But the official did not consider the proposal realistic given Russian and Chinese objections.

Tens of thousands of people throughout the delta are crammed into monasteries, schools and other buildings after arriving in towns that were on the breadline even before the disaster.

Lacking food, water and sanitation, they face the threat of killer diseases such as cholera and in some parts are waiting in vain for help to arrive.

(Additional reporting by Carmel Crimmins in BANGKOK)

(Writing by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Darren Schuettler)
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline Biggs

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2008, 10:02:17 am »
the poor souls, the Burmese govt says it does not need anymore help and that all areas are being helped. Sadly this is a lie, mere propaganda to keep the rest of the Burmese population quiet. And another cyclone may be on the way, so sad.  >:(

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2008, 09:26:54 pm »

Myanmar junta insists aid effort running smoothly
Thu May 15, 2008 3:08pm EDT

By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government said on Thursday its cyclone relief effort was moving along swiftly even as foreign powers warned of starvation and disease among up to 2.5 million people left destitute by the storm.

The European Union's top aid official met government ministers in Yangon and urged them to allow in foreign aid workers and essential equipment to prevent more deaths. But his trip did not yield any breakthroughs.

"You know, relations between Myanmar and the international community are difficult," Louis Michel told Reuters. "But that is not my problem."

"The time is not for political discussion. It's time to deliver aid to save lives."

Earlier, the reclusive generals signaled they would not budge.

"We have already finished our first phase of emergency relief. We are going onto the second phase, the rebuilding stage," state television quoted Prime Minister Thein Sein as telling his Thai counterpart this week.

Separately, the junta announced an overwhelming vote in favor of an army-backed constitution in a referendum held after the cyclone despite calls for a delay in the light of the disaster.

Nearly two weeks after the storm tore through the heavily populated Irrawaddy delta rice bowl -- leaving up to 128,000 people dead -- supplies of food, medicine and temporary shelter have been sent in dribs and drabs to devastated communities.

In the delta town of Bogalay, where around 10,000 people are thought to have died, people complained of forced labour and low supplies of food at state-run refugee centers.

"They have to break stones at the construction sites. They are paid K1,000 ($1) per day but are not provided any food," said Ko Hla Min, who lost nine family members in the storm.

Along the river in Bogalay rotting corpses remain tangled in the scrub. Villagers fish, wash and bathe in the same river.

The United Nations has said more than half a million people may now be sheltering in temporary settlements.

The United Nations has increased its estimate of the number of people in urgent need of aid to 2.5 million, and called for a high-level donors' conference to deal with the crisis.

U.N. spokeswoman Michel Montas told reporters on Thursday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's deputy, U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes, would go to Myanmar in the next five or six days, where he hoped to persuade the junta to grant U.N. workers more access to the delta region.

"Inconsistent access to the flooded delta region, damage to infrastructure and communications, and heavy rainfall pose serious logistical challenges, so the level of assistance is still falling far short of what is required," she said.

"Concern is deepening over the growing risk of outbreaks of disease, especially with people migrating outwards from the affected area in search of basic necessities," Montas said.

Myanmar state television raised its official death toll on Thursday to 43,328, while leaving the injured and missing figures unchanged at 1,403 injured and 27,838 respectively. Independent experts say the figures are probably far higher.


Despite calls to postpone its constitutional referendum after the disaster, the junta went ahead on May 10 in areas not seriously affected by the cyclone.

It said on Thursday more than 92 percent of the ballots cast were in favour of the charter.

The military sees the constitution as a key step in its democracy roadmap, but critics say it will only entrench their rule because it gives the military an automatic 25 percent of seats in parliament and control of key ministries.

"This referendum was full of cheating and fraud across the country," said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the opposition National League for Democracy.

A vote in the cyclone-hit areas is set for May 24.

The junta has consistently resisted outside calls for faster and more transparent moves to democracy, and since the cyclone has rebuffed calls for a full-blown international aid effort.


The United States and other countries continued to fly aid into Yangon on Thursday despite unconfirmed reports some supplies were being diverted by the army.

The United States has completed 13 flights with water, food and other supplies. The U.S. military plans more flights for Friday but has not received clearance from Myanmar yet.

"To the best of our ability, to date, we have not seen any U.S. assistance that has been diverted," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

France and Britain said they were sending emergency supplies to Myanmar to help victims of Cyclone Nargis.

In Bogalay relief materials were being held in storage waiting for distribution and government officials sold tin-sheets for roofs at K4,900 ($5) apiece, far above the budget of most.

Po Aung, who survived the tidal wave that tore through his village by clinging onto a tree, just wants to go home.

"Those dead are gone. But, we the remaining want to return to our own place," said the 57-year old, one of 80 survivors from a village of over 500. "We are very sad and disappointed too. We just don't know what to do."

(Additional reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan and Darren Schuettler in BANGKOK; Writing by Carmel Crimmins and Jerry Norton; Editing by Charles Dick)

(For more stories on Myanmar cyclone click on or follow the link to Reuters AlertNet
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2008, 09:30:13 pm »
Myanmar junta warns against hoarding cyclone aid

    * Story Highlights
    * NEW: Junta indirectly acknowledges problems with aid distribution
    * NEW: Aid agencies see no evidence of relief supplies for sale
    * U.N. aid agencies say Cyclone Nargis death toll could surpass 100,000
    * Voting postponed in worst-hit areas but state says outcome will not be altered

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's junta warned Thursday that legal action would be taken against people who trade or hoard international aid as the cyclone's death toll soared above 43,000.

It was the first acknowledgment by the military government, albeit indirectly, of problems with relief operations in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

The warning came amid reports that foreign aid was being sold openly in markets and that the military was pilfering and diverting aid for its own use.

The ruling junta has been blasted by aid agencies for refusing to allow most foreign experts into the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta and not responding adequately to what they say is a spiraling crisis.

Relief workers also reported that some storm survivors were being given spoiled or poor-quality food rather than nutrition-rich biscuits sent by international donors, adding to fears that the ruling military junta in the Southeast Asian country could be misappropriating assistance.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday that it had confirmed an Associated Press report that the military had seized high-energy biscuits that came from abroad and instead distributed low-quality, locally produced biscuits to survivors.

Thursday's radio announcement obliquely denied the military was misappropriating aid.

"The government has systematically accepted donations and has distributed the relief goods immediately and directly to the victims," it said. VideoWatch how aid trickles in to Myanmar »

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said aid workers who visited all the major markets in Yangon found no evidence of hoarding or sale of relief goods.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies spokesman Matthew Cochrane said the organization also had not received any such reports.

The government said Thursday that the official death toll from the May 2-3 cyclone had climbed by almost 5,000 to 43,318. The number of missing has remained at 27,838 for at least two days.

But the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimated that the death toll was between 68,833 and 127,990. The U.N. says more than 100,000 may have died.

The U.N. and the Red Cross say that between 1.6 million and 2.5 million people are in urgent need of food, water and shelter. Only 270,000 have been reached by the aid groups.

Tons of foreign aid including water, blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, medicines and tents has been sent to Myanmar, but its delivery has been slowed down because of bottlenecks, poor infrastructure and bureaucratic tangles.

The junta insists on taking control of the distribution. It has allowed the U.N. and some other agencies to hand out the aid directly but prohibited their few foreign staff members allowed into Myanmar from leaving Yangon, the country's main city. Read how aid workers are faring in Myanmar

Police have turned back foreigners from checkpoints at the city's exits.

"There is a visible fence around Yangon that we don't dare cross. A circle has been drawn around Yangon, and expats are confined there," said Tim Costello of aid group World Vision.

He said the group has delivered aid to 100,000 people in spite of the "narrow parameters." But there are tens of thousands more who haven't received help because of heavy rain and lack of helicopters and expert staff.

"While you are getting aid through, it's like getting it through on a 3-inch pipe, not 30-inch pipe," Costello said.

The regime insists that it can handle the disaster on its own, a stance that appears to stem not from its abilities but its deep suspicion of most foreigners, who have frequently criticized its human rights abuses and crackdown on democracy activists.

In a clear sign that politics is playing a role, the junta granted approval to 160 relief workers from India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand, which have rarely criticized Myanmar's democracy record.

With professional aid workers in short supply, ordinary citizens -- including businessmen, housewives, monks, Christian priests and students -- have rushed in to provide help.

But even Myanmar citizens are being restricted by the security forces, said Zaw Htin, a 21-year-old medical student who visited hard-hit Bogaley town on Wednesday.

"[The military doesn't] want us to stay and talk to people. They want us to leave the supplies with them for distribution. But how can I treat them if I can't talk to them? How do we administer medical care if we can't touch them, feel their pulse or give them advice?" she asked.

"It was overwhelming even for us who have seen a lot of suffering and death," Zaw Htin said.

Britain's prime minister said Thursday that an emergency U.N. summit to coordinate efforts to rush aid to cyclone victims in Myanmar will be held in Asia.

Gordon Brown said the summit was being organized by the U.N. and Asian countries and would be held in the region. He said the meeting represented "great progress" but gave no details of when it would take place.

Also Thursday, the junta announced that voters had overwhelmingly backed a pro-military constitution in a referendum that was held one week after the cyclone.

Human rights organizations and dissident groups bitterly accused the junta of neglecting disaster victims in going ahead with the vote and have criticized the proposed constitution as designed to perpetuate military rule.

State radio said the draft constitution was approved by 92.4 percent of the 22 million eligible voters. It put voter turnout Saturday at more than 99 percent of eligible voters in areas that went to the polls.

Voting was postponed until May 24 in the Irrawaddy delta and Yangon areas, which were worst hit by Cyclone Nargis. But state radio said the results of the late balloting could not mathematically reverse the constitution's approval.

"People are dying and they are talking about the referendum?" said Kyaw Muang, a small food store owner in Yangon. "[The generals] don't even care about dying people; you think they care about democracy for living people?" he said.

"I don't care about the referendum. It doesn't mean anything," he said.

Human Rights Watch also slammed the timing of the constitution announcement and questioned the accuracy of the results.

David Mathieson, a spokesman in Bangkok, Thailand, said the junta hopes that by announcing the results now, it would divert attention from its handling of the disaster and its refusal to cooperate with the international community.

"It seems strategically timed, because you would have thought with how busy they were in cleaning up the cyclone that they never would have had time to count this properly," he said.

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

All AboutMyanmar • Natural Disasters • Gordon Brown • Ban Ki-moon
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2008, 10:26:16 am »
Burma death toll jumps to 78,000
Survivors are complaining that aid is simply not reaching those that need it

The official death toll for Burma's cyclone disaster has jumped to almost 78,000 people, with nearly 56,000 missing, according to state TV.

Previously, Burma was giving a toll of 43,000 dead and 28,000 missing while the Red Cross and United Nations had estimated a death toll above 100,000.

Aid agencies are frustrated at the slow progress of aid to areas worst hit.

Cyclone Nargis battered southern regions of Burma, including the Irrawaddy Delta, on 2-3 May.

A BBC reporter in the delta this week saw little sign of official help and foreign aid workers have been barred from the area.

Heavy rain has been lashing the region, compounding the misery of survivors.

The EU's top aid official, Louis Michel, has been denied permission to visit the delta and says he was given no explanation why disaster emergency experts were being refused visas.

However, Burma - also known as Myanmar - has promised to take foreign diplomats on a tour of the region this weekend.

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2008, 11:28:56 pm »

Negotiating aid politics in Burma
By Mike Thomson
BBC News

Getting aid staff and relief supplies into Burma is already difficult. Criticise the country's generals and it threatens to become impossible.

This belief has prevented foreign aid agencies from airing problems they encounter with local authorities.

However, deepening concern about the fate of tens of thousands of people who have yet to get help, along with my promise of anonymity, has persuaded one senior aid agency worker to speak out.

Speaking over the phone from his base in Rangoon, James (not his real name) began by telling me: "One of the things you learn is that whatever the government says nationally and wants to be seen to be saying as its government policy, things on the ground are often quite different."

   They report stories of the prime minister giving out televisions and DVD players to people living in temporary shelters
James, aid worker

This may come as a surprise to many, given that the regime is insisting that the cyclone relief operation is now over, even though thousands of people in the worst areas have yet to receive any help at all.

This bizarre claim comes at a time when Britain's Foreign Office estimates that 217,000 people may already have died, a figure that rises by the day and may soon surpass the number killed in 2004's tsunami.

One of the biggest concerns following Cyclone Nargis has been the Burmese junta's reluctance to help their own people whilst simultaneously rejecting most help from outside.

But James insists that it is still possible to get around the generals.

Local contact

The trick, it seems, is to approach local officials in outlying offices. Often closer to the people in need, which may include their own families, they will often grant permission for aid teams to enter restricted areas provided that their bosses do not know about it.

"The official line is nobody can bring in stuff unless they give it to the government, all the distribution is being done by the government.

"Whereas actually, on the ground, we have permission from local authorities to distribute ourselves in lots of places where officially it is only the government distributing."

The trouble is that this is a country where any official thought to have made the "wrong" decision, can find himself in deep trouble with his military masters.

As a result some prefer to make no decision at all about some aid shipments for days on end while people in desperate need continue to suffer.

James says that senior army officers have been drafted in to take charge of some aid distribution points. Agencies asking to send relief supplies to areas that these officers come from will often get approval quickly, even if these places are officially out-of-bounds.

Not that you will find such accounts of dubious practices in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar. Instead, it is full of stories of smiling military leaders rushing to help their people.

James says that the generals seem to believe that the biggest need of those without homes, food, water and often their entire families is the latest electronic gadgetry.

"They report stories of the prime minister giving out televisions and DVD players to people living in temporary shelters, which is a bizarre form of relief supply especially when most of these people will not have any electricity."

The bad news for the generals, who have long been despised by much of the outside world, is that such tactics have done nothing to improve their popularity at home either.

"We certainly haven't been out there taking polls, but there does seem to be a high level of anger. I mean, there is in normal times towards the regime but it has certainly intensified."

Not that the men at the top seem to care.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/05/16 17:35:19 GMT

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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2008, 10:38:09 pm »

    * Canadian shelter kits close to reaching Burmese - 1 hour ago
    * Canadian aid for Myanmar lands in Bangkok - 14 hours ago
    * Hunger, despair take hold in Myanmar
      Globe and Mail - 19 hours ago

Full coverage »
Canadian Forces plane carrying aid for Myanmar arrives in Bangkok

1 hour ago

A Canadian military plane carrying 40 tonnes worth of relief supplies for Myanmar cyclone victims arrived Saturday in Bangkok, Thailand.

The giant Canadian Forces C-17 Globemaster plane took off from CFB Trenton, Ont., on Wednesday carrying about 2,000 emergency shelter kits.

The Canadian Red Cross said Saturday the aid will broken up into smaller shipments and taken to Yangon, Myanmar, where it will be distributed by local Red Cross volunteers on the ground.

The kits, designed by the Red Cross and provided by the Canadian International Development Agency from its warehouse west of Toronto, each contain two tarpaulins and a set of tools, including a shovel, rope, hammer, nails and a hand saw, to allow people to rig makeshift shelters.

Dena Allen, public affairs co-ordinator for the Canadian Red Cross in Ottawa, said the kits will provide shelter for up to 10,000 people affected by the disaster.

While Myanmar's state-run television has put the official death toll at 78,000 with about 56,000 missing, the international Red Cross believes the death toll is closer to 128,000. It has warned there could be many more deaths from disease and starvation unless help is provided quickly to the 2.5 million survivors.

"Obviously the need is great," said Allen. "They are still very much in need of emergency relief and just making sure they get the basic supplies of food, shelter, clothing and then obviously there are some health concerns that are arising as well."

The kits are part of the $2 million in aid the Canadian government has pledged for the storm victims. The government also offered the use of its Disaster Assistance Response Team - or DART - if Myanmar's military junta accepts the team.

The junta has so far refused to allow most foreign aid workers into the country, but did allow Thai and Indian medical teams into the country Saturday.

The Canadian government also said it will match donations of individual Canadians to humanitarian organizations assisting with the relief efforts in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Allen said the Canadian Red Cross has so far received $1.3 million for its Myanmar cyclone appeal from Canadians and the federal government.

The government has advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to Myanmar due to the extensive damage caused by the storm.

But according to some who gathered at the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Saturday to rally against Myanmar's ruling military junta, Canada's aid efforts have thus far fallen short.

Bush Gulati, vice-chairman of the Burma Cyclone Relief Committee, said the $2 million government pledge isn't enough, since there are around 2.5 million victims.

He added the diplomatic effort on the part of Canada and other countries has also proved ineffectual in convincing Burmese authorities to open the country up for aid.

"The government should find ways - maybe they could use their leverage with China, to knock some sense into the heads of the stubborn Burmese generals," said Gulati.

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, who spoke at the Toronto rally Saturday, said the Canadian government has undertaken an "extraordinary" diplomatic effort to help cyclone victims.

He added the government has repeatedly offered technical and medical aid to Myanmar's rulers, including the service of DART.

"As you know, the Burmese regime have refused to grant visas to those or other international technical teams."
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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2008, 10:39:58 pm »

Myanmar death toll soars
Sun May 18, 2008 3:36am BST

By Aung Hla Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Diplomats witnessed "huge" devastation in the Irrawaddy delta on Saturday and the toll of dead and missing from the cyclone rose above 133,000 people, making it one of the most damaging to hit Asia.

With about 2.5 million people clinging to survival in the delta, and the military government refusing to admit large-scale outside relief, disaster experts say the death toll from Cyclone Nargis which struck on May 2 could rise dramatically.

"It was useful to catch the magnitude of the devastation. It's huge," Bernard Delpuech, head of the European Commission Humanitarian Office in Yangon, said of the trip.

"For the recovery you can't expect it to be six months or a year. It will take longer," he told Reuters from Yangon, the former Rangoon.

Helicopters took some 60 to 70 diplomats split in three groups to different parts of the delta, where Nargis struck with 120 mph (190 kmh) winds and a 12-foot (3.5 metre) wall of water.

The itineraries were arranged by the Myanmar government, under fire for refusing to allow significant numbers of foreign aid workers and major international aid operations. The generals running the country say they have things in hand.

"The purpose was to show the situation was under control. Where we were they didn't hide anything but of course they selected the places we visited," Delpuech said.

In the last 50 years, only two Asian cyclones have exceeded Nargis in terms of human cost -- a 1970 storm that killed 500,000 people in neighbouring Bangladesh, and another that killed 143,000 in 1991, also in Bangladesh.


During the Saturday tour diplomats tried at every chance to tell the accompanying Myanmar minister that the government should provide more international aid access, Delpuech said.

He said the answer was: "Yes, they're willing, but they don't want the people who will create more problems".

The insistence of the military, which has ruled unchecked for the last 46 years, on handling the bulk of aid distribution seemingly stems from fear an influx of helpful foreigners might loosen its vice-like grip on power.

Myanmar state television said on Saturday media reports were inaccurate in suggesting the government was not doing enough.

There have already been tens of millions of dollars spent and extensive aid deliveries and other efforts by the army, navy and air force, state television said.

However, near the town of Kunyangon this week columns of men, women and children stretched for miles alongside the road, begging in the mud and rain for scraps of food or clothing from the occasional passing aid vehicle.

Witnesses say many refugees are crammed into monasteries and schools, fed and watered by local volunteers and private donors who have sent in clothes, biscuits, dried noodles and rice.

Buddhist monks play a major role.

"We have distributed over 100 tonnes of rice and more than 3,000 tin roofing sheets so far. We are trying to distribute more," said the Venerable Nyanissara, who oversees a makeshift relief centre in the town of Kunthechaung.

There, robed and shaven-headed monks receive carefully measured quotas of food for their storm-hit home villages.


Given the monks' moral authority in the devoutly Buddhist southeast Asian nation, private donors are happy to see the men take charge of goods brought in rickety trucks and boats.

The generals have admitted aid flights to Yangon, including around four daily from staunch critic the United States.

They have allowed in some foreign aid workers, especially from countries considered friendly. Medical teams from Thailand and India arrived on Saturday, state television said.

But aid agencies say only a fraction of needed relief gets to the inundated part of the delta, an area the size of Austria, and more lives are at risk unless the situation improves.

In a rare sign of agreement with international aid agencies, the junta on Friday night sharply raised the official toll from the disaster to 77,738 dead and 55,917 missing.

The news came on state TV, which has mainly shown footage of generals handing out food at model tented temporary villages.

People in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, are snapping up bootleg video discs of bloated corpses, desperate refugees and ravaged villages to get a fuller picture of the situation.

"Myanmar television is useless," said a Yangon businessman.

Given the junta's virtual ban on foreign journalists and restrictions on aid workers, independent assessment is difficult.

As international frustration mounts, envoys fly in to try to coax the junta out of its deep distrust of the outside world.

The latest is the U.N.'s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, expected to arrive in Yangon on Sunday.

A spokeswoman said Holmes will carry a third letter from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to junta leader Than Shwe, who has repeatedly ignored Ban's requests for a conversation.

(Writing by Ed Cropley and Jerry Norton)

(For more stories on Myanmar cyclone follow the link to Reuters AlertNet http:/
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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2008, 11:32:53 pm »

International Herald Tribune
Burmese leader pays first visit to refugees
International Herald Tribune
Monday, May 19, 2008

YANGON, Myanmar: The leader of Myanmar's ruling junta, for the first time, on Sunday visited victims of the cyclone that destroyed wide swaths of this country, two weeks after the storm killed at least 78,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

State television showed video of the leader, Senior General Than Shwe, touring a refugee camp, checking supplies, patting the heads of babies and shaking hands with survivors. Some of the cyclone victims, surrounded by neat rows of blue tents, clasped their hands and bowed as the general and other senior military officials walked by.

Shwe came from the remote capital of Naypyidaw in the north to visit refugee camps in two suburbs of Yangon, Myanmar's main city, state television reported. The images were part of a broad effort by the state-run media on Sunday to defend the government's relief efforts and to counter mounting international criticism over its reluctance to permit foreign aid workers to enter the country.

Still, pressure continued to mount on the military regime. John Holmes, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs at the United Nations, arrived in Yangon late on Sunday to meet with the junta's leaders.

The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said Sunday that he intended to travel to the Irrawaddy Delta, which was especially ravaged by the cyclone, on Wednesday. He has been rebuffed in his efforts to speak with the junta about the situation.

Lord Malloch-Brown, a British Foreign Office minister, said Sunday that there were signs Myanmar's leaders might be reconsidering their resistance to significant international help. Asian intermediaries were trying to negotiate a compromise that would allow many more Western ships to deliver relief supplies.

"I think you're going to see quite dramatic steps by the Burmese to open up," he told the BBC.

On the streets of Yangon, which was also hit hard by the cyclone, ordinary citizens were quick to voice their discontent with the government, provided they were not identified.

Soldiers were busy on Sunday clearing piles of garbage from the city's main streets, in preparation for Holmes's visit.

"This is the government's twisted way of handling the crisis," said a Yangon publisher, who said he had been collecting donations and sending them to people in the Irrawaddy Delta. "Don't you think the soldiers should be down in the delta, helping the people there?"

Women and children lined up in long rows in the delta region to wait for food, according to pictures taken by Yangon residents who are running private aid missions in the region.

About 50 students staged a 15-minute demonstration in Yangon on Saturday calling for the government to accept and encourage more foreign aid, according to dissidents here.

In a village in the South Dagon district of Yangon, people living in huts built with coconut leaves said they had received only three packets of rice since the storm destroyed most of their village. One packet contained enough rice for four meals for a family of three.

Villagers gathered at a school in the area on Sunday after they heard that a high-ranking government official was planning to come to distribute food.

"But as soon as the high-ranking official left, in 20 minutes it all stopped and the officials said there was going to be no more food and told us to go home," said Ko Than Oo, a 39-year-old carpenter. "Although we didn't lose our home, we lost food and we need it, too."

Many people interviewed in Yangon said they were deeply distraught at the junta's slow and ineffective response to the disaster. "They don't care about people," said a 28-year-old businessman. "They don't look after their own people."

Shari Villarosa, the senior diplomat at the United States Embassy in Yangon, said the military leaders' reluctance to admit more foreign aid and aid workers exasperated ordinary people, whose discontent over sharp inflation and political repression erupted last September in an uprising led by Buddhist monks.

"Anger is still there," Villarosa said in an interview on Sunday. "Discontent is still there. And now there is a growing discontent that there is international assistance out there that can be brought in, so why aren't we getting it?"

"I am convinced that there are hundreds of thousands of people who have not been reached yet," she added, referring to the relief efforts.

There is also growing concern among the citizens about the long-term effects of the cyclone. The Irrawaddy Delta is a vital source of rice and salt, as well as fish and charcoal, a cooking fuel for the poor.

Fears of increasing inflation are on the rise. Most of the factories in Yangon's industrial district remain closed because the government was slow to restore electricity and workers stopped going to work so they could repair their homes. Some workers worry that they could soon find themselves without jobs.

"We see another disaster coming in Yangon," the young businessman said. "Normally we don't want foreign involvement," he added. "But now the question for us is, who can help us?"
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |
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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2008, 01:20:04 pm »

Cyclone-hit Myanmar seeks $11 bln in aid - ASEAN
Wed May 21, 2008 10:36am EDT

YANGON, May 21 (Reuters) - Myanmar's military government wants more than $11 billion in aid for cyclone victims, but international donors need access to verify their needs, a top Southeast Asian diplomat said on Wednesday.

ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan also said a Myanmar cabinet minister told him that French oil giant Total SA (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) was willing to transfer aid and equipment from French and U.S. Navy ships waiting in waters near the former Burma.

Minister of Planning and Economic Development Soe Tha "told us Total is going to do the transfer" of aid from the ships, Surin said in an interview with Reuters.

Details of how the supplies would be transferred -- by helicopter or other means -- were not discussed, the Secretary-General of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said.

Total could not immediately be reached for comment.

The French firm, one of the biggest foreign investors in Myanmar, operates the offshore Yadana gas field and a pipeline that runs to the shore and overland to neighbouring Thailand.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who was due in Yangon on Thursday, said relief workers had so far been able to reach only a quarter of those in need among an estimated 2.4 million people made destitute by the May 2 storm and sea surge that left nearly 134,000 dead or missing.

ASEAN is convening a donor conference jointly with the United Nations on Sunday, amid criticism in the West that too few foreign aid experts have been allowed into the stricken Irrawaddy Delta to establish aid distribution networks.

Surin said the military government is seeking $11 billion in pledged aid from the conference.

"The concern is for the international community to pledge assistance 'How do we know it's $11 billion? How can we be certain?'," said the former Thai foreign minister.

"Accessibility is important to guarantee confidence and verify the damage and needs, otherwise confidence during pledging will be affected," he said.

Surin said a rapid assessment team of ASEAN members needed to be on the ground and continue to report to come up with a "credible needs analysis" trusted by the donors before pledging.

The diplomat said the military government, criticised for a slow and inefficient response to the disaster, "realised the magnitude of the damage".

Until this week, the junta's attention appeared to have been on a May 10 referendum on a constitution drafted by the army.

Diplomats said their attitude appeared to change just before an emergency meeting of ASEAN in Singapore on Monday that established an aid framework to accommodate the generals' concerns. (Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Valerie Lee) (For more stories on Myanmar cyclone click on [nSP152717] or follow the link to Reuters AlertNet

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2008, 10:59:09 am »

The Associated Press

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, right, walks from a helicopter Thursday, May 22, 2008 in Mawgyun, Myanmar on a tour to view conditions in cyclone damaged areas and to meet with Myanmar government officials. (AP Photo/Stan Honda, Pool)
Related News

    * UN's Ban tours Myanmar disaster area
      AFP - 12 minutes ago
    * UN chief sees devastation on Myanmar aid mission
      National Post - 40 minutes ago
    * Myanmar's generals bend a little to Ban Ki-Moon
      Radio Netherlands - 1 hour ago

Full coverage »
UN chief sees devastated Myanmar delta

By JOHN HEILPRIN – 1 hour ago

KYONDAH, Myanmar (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon surveyed devastated sections of Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta on Thursday and said he was very upset by the conditions of cyclone survivors.

Ban went on a four-hour helicopter trip that touched down at several makeshift settlements of refugees from the May 2-3 storm. He is one of a handful of foreigners allowed to see the zone first hand.

Ban was first taken to a village called Kyondah, where 500 people huddled in blue tents.

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

The settlement is somewhat of a showpiece. Visits by senior junta members and representatives of foreign embassies and aid organizations last week were publicized in the state-controlled media.

The victims had standard-issue cooking pots and blankets. The equipment looked new.

Foreign relief agencies say many parts of the delta — and even some areas close to Yangon, the country's biggest city — have not received sufficient relief supplies. The helicopter flew over villages and towns that had been ravaged by the tropical storm.

The Irrawaddy Delta, the country's rice bowl, is where most of the 78,000 deaths from the cyclone occurred. Another 56,000 people are listed as missing

In a meeting earlier with Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, Ban stressed that international aid experts should be rushed in because the crisis had exceeded Myanmar's national capacity, according to a U.N. official at the talks.

"The United Nations and all the international community stand ready to help to overcome the tragedy," Ban said. "The main purpose of my being here is to demonstrate my solidarity."

Activists called on Ban to meet with detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and seek her release. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been confined to her Yangon villa for most of the last 18 years and her current period of detention is due to expire Monday.

Such a meeting was not on Ban's official itinerary.

"This crisis has highlighted the desperate need for democratic and accountable government in Burma," the Burma Campaign UK said in a statement. "Ban Ki-moon must meet with Aung San Suu Kyi."

As Ban began his visit, foreign aid agencies and Myanmar citizens stressed the need to quickly reach survivors suffering from disease, hunger and lack of shelter.

"In 30-plus years of humanitarian emergency work this is by far — by far — the largest case of emergency need we've ever seen," said Lionel Rosenblatt, president of U.S.-based Refugees International. "And yet, right offshore, right here in Thailand, we have the means to save these people."

Ban met for nearly 1 1/2 hours with Thein Sein as well as with international aid agencies in Yangon.

In contrast to reports of appalling conditions in the delta, Thein Sein told Ban that the relief phase of the government's operation was ending and the focus had shifted to reconstruction, the U.N. official at the talks said, requesting anonymity for reasons of protocol.

The latest report from the International Red Cross said rivers and ponds in the delta's Bogalay area were full of corpses, and that many people in remote areas had received no aid.

Ban said mutual trust was needed between Myanmar and the international community, which was prepared to send in planes and helicopters to help, the official said.

Before talks began, the secretary-general visited Yangon's Shwedagon pagoda, regarded as the spiritual heart of the country.

"I praise the will, resilience and the courage of the people of Myanmar. I bring a message of hope for the people of Myanmar," he said as bells chimed.

Security for Ban's visit was heavy, with dozens of armed riot police dotting the road from the airport to the city.

U.N. official Dan Baker said junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe and Ban would meet Friday at Naypyitaw, the administrative capital built by the military in a remote area of central Myanmar. Ban earlier said Than Shwe had refused to take his telephone calls and did not respond to two letters.

Among a number of Yangon citizens interviewed, few were optimistic that Ban's visit would make a difference.

"I doubt he could do much. The U.N. has no power here," said Aung Myint Oe, a service industry worker.

Kyaw Htun Htun, a local businessman, predicted that "they (the generals) won't care what the U.N. says."

"The government has not helped us at all," said Eain Daw Bar Tha, abbot of a Buddhist monastery on Yangon's outskirts, pointing to a light bulb on the ceiling. "It has been 20 days since the storm, but the electricity is still not working."

The U.N. says up to 2.5 million cyclone survivors face hunger, homelessness and potential outbreaks of deadly diseases, especially in the low-lying delta. Aid has reached only about 25 percent of them.

"There needs to be more equipment. There needs to be more flights coming in. There needs to more boats out there to reach remote areas," said Jemilah Mahmood of the aid agency Mercy Malaysia in Bangkok.

Myanmar is still reluctant to accept more than a handful of experienced foreign rescue and disaster relief workers.

Following Ban into the delta will be representatives of 29 nations, including Japan, Singapore and Thailand, who have been invited to Myanmar by the regime. The group, which includes government officials, aid officials and private-sector donors, will visit the region Friday.

Ban said Tuesday the junta had finally granted the U.N. permission to use nine World Food Program helicopters to carry aid to people stranded in inaccessible areas. WFP officials in Bangkok confirmed 10 flights would be allowed beginning Thursday
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Offline Biggs

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2008, 10:59:14 am »
I heard estimates of the number of homeless are as high as 5 million and nobody there to help, how tragic.

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2008, 11:42:20 pm »
I heard estimates of the number of homeless are as high as 5 million and nobody there to help, how tragic.

Things do seem to be getting a little better for some of them. But the sheer number of people affected by the storm is staggering. Tragic indeed.
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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2008, 11:44:14 pm »


Cautious response to Burma pledge

Aid agencies have given a cautious welcome to the announcement that Burma's leaders will allow all foreign relief workers into cyclone-hit areas.

The UN's World Food Programme said the real test was whether its workers would be allowed to leave Rangoon for the devastated southern Irrawaddy Delta.

About 78,000 people died and 56,000 are missing after the 2 May cyclone.

Meanwhile, the polls have opened in the final stage of a controversial referendum on a new constitution.

The vote is taking place in Rangoon and parts of the Irrawaddy delta, where only a few million people will be casting their ballots.

Analysts say this is not nearly enough to overturn a massive majority in favour of the new constitution, which the Burmese leadership claimed during the main stage of the vote earlier this month.

'World is watching'

Thousands of aid workers are needed for the relief effort in Burma in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, and the massive reconstruction that must follow.

For weeks, Burma's government - suspicious of foreigners and fearful of any development which could challenge its monopoly on power - has blocked foreign aid workers.


The change in the Burmese generals' hardline position on access came after a meeting on Friday between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Burma's senior general, Than Shwe.

After talks in Burma's remote capital, Nay Pyi Daw, Mr Ban said Burma would now allow the delivery of aid "via civilian ships and small boats".

But his wording suggested that the US, British and French warships waiting off the coast with supplies may not be able to dock.

Correspondents say Burma has a record of withdrawing promises made to the UN, and aid agencies are waiting to hear how these new arrangements will work in practice.

The UN's World Food Programme says it has now been allowed to bring in 10 helicopters to ferry supplies to the disaster zone.

The French organisation Doctors without Borders says it has now some foreign staff working in four areas of the Irrawaddy Delta. There is also a Thai medical team working there too.

Mr Ban stressed that "implementation will be the key", and warned that what happened next would be closely watched.

Western governments have backed Mr Ban's visit, calling for pressure on Burma's leadership to do more to help the cyclone victims.

The UN estimates that only a quarter of the 2.5 million Burmese affected by the cyclone have received the help they need.

Meanwhile, Mr Ban has arrived in China, to observe relief efforts after a massive earthquake struck Sichuan province on 12 May, killing more than 55,000 people.

Mr Ban is in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, from where he is expected to travel to a town close to the quake's epicentre later on Saturday.

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Published: 2008/05/24 03:35:13 GMT

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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2008, 12:53:12 am »

The Canadian Press
Myanmar people line up to greet U.N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he arrives at a refugee center Thursday, May 22, 2008, in the Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/John Heilprin
Related News

    * 45 countries pledge aid, insist on Burma access
      Bangkok Post - 46 minutes ago
    * International donors gather for Burma aid conference
      ABC Online - 1 hour ago
    * Myanmar hosts cyclone aid meeting - 1 hour ago

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UN chief in Myanmar for cyclone donors meeting

25 minutes ago
YANGON, Myanmar — A 50-nation conference to pledge funds for survivors of Myanmar's cyclone convened Sunday after the country's xenophobic junta promised to open their doors to critically needed foreign assistance.

Three weeks after the cyclone struck, frustrated foreign aid workers were ratcheting up preparations to finally go into the Irrawaddy delta with food, drinking water, medicine and other relief.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had won permission from the ruling generals to allow in foreign relief workers, arrived in Myanmar early Sunday to attend the conference of some 50 countries along with UN and non-governmental aid agencies.

After weeks of stubbornly refusing assistance, Myanmar's ruling generals have told the United Nations they are now willing to allow workers of all nationalities to help survivors of the storm that left about 78,000 people dead and another 56,000 missing.

The ability to assess the situation will be critical in securing pledges from foreign governments, and the junta's about-face was seen as a concession to get more aid when the potential donor nations meet in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.

Myanmar's generals have a long history of making promises to top UN envoys, then breaking them when the international spotlight on their country fades.

The world body has repeatedly failed to convince the military to make democratic reforms and to release opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose five-year period of house arrest expires this week.

Sunday's donor conference in Yangon was aimed at finally bringing desperately needed help to homeless and hungry survivors of the cyclone.

An estimate released Saturday by the UN said that while about 42 per cent of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm had received some kind of emergency assistance, only 23 per cent of the two million people living in the hardest-hit areas had been reached.

Ban said Myanmar's ruling generals had told him that international aid workers will be able "to freely reach the needy people," a pledge the junta has not publicly acknowledged.

The United Nations has launched an emergency appeal for US$201 million. That figure will likely increase once disaster relief experts are able to survey the stricken Irrawaddy delta.

So far, the UN has received about US$50 million in contributions and about US$42.5 million in pledges in response to the appeal, said Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Myanmar has estimated the economic damage at about US$11 billion.

The conference Sunday is being sponsored by the UN and the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is taking the lead in organizing the delivery of aid to Myanmar, one of its members.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, calling it a "Coalition of Mercy," said he believed donors would show their goodwill, but added that they would be unlikely to honour pledges if the junta failed to follow through on its promises for international access.

"I don't think we have any doubt that there will be a lot of goodwill coming through," Surin said. "But again it will depend on how we carry out this goodwill, or administer this goodwill, with the co-operation of Myanmarese authorities."

"We expect no obstacles," he said.

The junta's apparent concession came Friday after three weeks of blocking relief for cyclone survivors.

"I want to be optimistic, but I'm skeptical," Lionel Rosenblatt, president emeritus of U.S.-based Refugees International said. "The devil is going to be in the implementation."

The possible breakthrough distracted attention from the junta's widely criticized decision to push ahead Saturday with a constitutional referendum in Yangon and hard-hit areas of the delta.

Turnout for the vote appeared low, which was expected since many potential voters remained consumed with rebuilding their lives and the government already had announced the final results.

A cyclone victim, 27-year-old Naing Lin, said he was "not even aware of the referendum, and even if I were, I wouldn't be interested."

Naing Lin, whose entire immediate family died in the storm, was staying at a monastery in Kyonemaw village southwest of Yangon.
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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2008, 01:07:22 am »
Foreignors Enter Cyclone Hit Delta, Testing Myanmar's Promise

Saw Htu, who lost all his cattle during cyclone Nargis, poses in his damaged house

Foreigners enter cyclone-hit delta, testing Myanmar's promise

YANGON (AFP) — Foreign aid workers Tuesday pressed into Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta, testing the junta's pledge to open up areas where one million people have yet to receive aid three weeks after the cyclone.

Six foreign staff based in Yangon with the UN children's fund UNICEF were allowed to join teams of mainly Myanmar workers to assess the scale of the devastation left by Cyclone Nargis, which left 133,000 dead or missing.

"We're very pleased obviously that we've been able to get international colleagues out" into the delta, UNICEF spokeswoman Shantha Bloemen said in Bangkok.

Other charities such as Doctors Without Borders were also sending foreign staff into the delta, testing Myanmar's promise to open up to international experts whose specialist knowledge is needed to ramp up emergency operations.

Most of the 2.4 million people in desperate need of food, shelter and medicine have yet to receive any international aid, according to the United Nations.

After three weeks of insisting that the military could handle the aid effort itself, Myanmar's tightly controlled state media Tuesday hailed the work of the UN agencies following a donor conference at the weekend.

"The United Nations and its agencies took prompt action to carry out relief and rehabilitation mission with the contributions of international organisations," the official New Light of Myanmar said.

"Providing food, clothing and shelters to the victims are to be carried out with the aid of the international community," it said, adding that reconstruction would be done "with the help of skilled workers."

"With the contributions of the UN, ASEAN and the international community in that regard, we firmly believe that the rehabilitation of storm victims will be materialised soonest," the government mouthpiece said.

Donors offered tens of millions of dollars in cyclone aid at the weekend during a conference hosted by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian nations.

The money came with a clear message for the junta -- that international help depends on open access for aid workers to the cyclone zone.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who last week became the first UN chief to visit this country in more than four decades, said junta leader Than Shwe had assured him that workers would be allowed into the delta.

Myanmar also agreed for the UN and ASEAN to coordinate a stepped-up relief programme, but details on how that would work remain murky.

Entire villages in the delta were wiped away in the storm, and those that survived are often inaccessible by road.

Cyclone survivors have lined the roads to beg for food from private donors, who have been driving from Yangon and other towns to deliver aid themselves.

Police and immigration officers continue to stage roadblocks to question foreigners, and authorities in some areas were shooing away beggars who hoped to receive donations from passing cars.

Some travellers were warned by police that their driving licences would be suspended if they continued to give food to cyclone survivors, an AFP reporter said.

"Aid goods should be given out at relief centres only," one officer told a group of local volunteers giving away food.

"The people should learn to feed themselves. They should return to their homes," the officer said. "We do not want foreigners to think we are a country of beggars."

Along the road leading to the delta town of Dedaye, hundreds of people stampede toward passing cars, in hopes of receiving even a scrap of food.

"Give me something. Give me some rice," a barefoot five-year-old boy screamed with his hands stretched out as one car passed.
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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2008, 04:25:41 pm »
Foreigners told not to feed starving victims

From correspondents in Rangoon

May 28, 2008 02:53am
Article from: Herald Sun

BURMA'S police are trying to clear the roads of thousands of cyclone survivors whose desperation has reduced them to begging for food from passing cars.

Little official aid is reaching the hardest-hit parts of the Irrawaddy delta, which bore the brunt of the storm, so volunteers from Rangoon and other cities have been driving to villages to deliver aid themselves.

Police, soldiers and immigration officers have staged roadblocks to question foreigners on the main route from Rangoon into the devastated town of Dedaye in the delta.

Now, police are warning volunteers against making donations, threatening to suspend their driving licences.

"Aid goods should be given out at relief centres only," one officer told a volunteer trying to give food to cyclone victims.

"The people should learn to feed themselves. They should return to their homes," he said.

"We do not want foreigners to think we are a country of beggars. Your driving licence will be suspended for a year if you are caught giving out food," he warned.

Police say they are trying to ensure the safety of the crowds of people who now line the region's few roads, hoping for handouts.

Desperation has grown so intense that hundreds of people stampede every passing car, hoping to grab even a scrap of food.

"Give me something. Give me the rice," a barefoot five-year-old boy screamed with his hands stretched out to a passing car.

Other survivors are relying on their own meagre resources, catching fish in canals that are now flooded with debris and rank with the corpses of rotting animals and human waste.

But along the road leading to Dedaye, thousands of people - breastfeeding mothers, children, elderly men and women - wait under the tropical sun and daily monsoon showers, hoping for someone to give them food or clean drinking water.

Also yesterday, Burma's military rulers tightened security around the home of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the day her latest year-long stretch of house arrest was due to expire.

Few expect the military to do anything but roll over the 62-year-old Nobel laureate's detention order, though such a move is bound to create tensions with Western nations who've promised millions of dollars in cyclone aid.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda urged Burma's junta to release Ms Suu Kyi in light of the goodwill the world has shown in helping the cyclone-devastated nation.

Mr Wirayuda said, however, he was not optimistic that she would regain her freedom soon, given the junta's past rejection of such calls from the international community.,23599,23771283-2,00.html

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
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Offline blicknasty

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2008, 04:36:30 pm »
It's a New World Order masterpiece.
"One should have insight into this world of dreams that passes in the twinkling of an eye."

Offline Neo

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2008, 04:53:51 pm »
Very interesting photo of the cyclone that hit Myanmar formerly known as Burma.

Notice the Chemtrails south of the storm.

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how few by deceit"

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"It is discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and
how few by deceit"

Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #33 on: May 28, 2008, 10:29:55 pm »
I don't know what to make of that. I have seen the same patterns in storms that hit the gulf coast. Is there some kind of natural phenomena associated with these storms that we are just not familiar with?
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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #34 on: May 28, 2008, 10:34:00 pm »

U.S. Navy Waiting for Junta's Permission to Deliver Burma Aid

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 28, 2008; 3:30 PM

The United States is prepared to step up deliveries of relief supplies to Burma from Navy ships off the coast of the cyclone-ravaged nation but cannot wait much longer for permission from Burma's military rulers, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said today.

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, who heads the U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that sailors and Marines aboard the USS Essex and three other Navy ships in the Bay of Bengal are "desperate to provide help" but are growing increasingly frustrated by the Burmese junta's refusal to accept aid from U.S. and other foreign naval vessels.

Keating said the ships could remain in position for only a matter of days before they must move on to other missions if they are not allowed to help. He said that he had not heard of a reported proposal to have Burmese vessels come out to the Essex to receive relief supplies, but that "certainly we'd consider that." If the Burmese were to propose such a solution, he said, "I would think we'd look favorably on that."

However, a senior Philippine relief official and political leader, Sen. Richard J. Gordon, said he would be "very surprised if that happened." Gordon, chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, headed that nation's delegation to an international pledging conference held Sunday in Rangoon.

Burmese authorities made clear at the conference that they did not want foreign military personnel providing aid, particularly those from Western countries, Gordon said in a telephone interview from Manila.

"They won't let the military in," he said. "They were very emphatic about that."

But Burmese authorities have allowed at least 70 relief flights into Rangoon by U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes in the past two weeks, Keating told Pentagon reporters today.

"We're moving five C-130 loads a day," and the flights are continuing, the Pacific Command chief said. So far, U.S. aircraft have flown in 1.4 million pounds of supplies, including material carried on behalf of nongovernmental organizations and United Nations agencies, Keating said.

He said distribution of the supplies is being handled to some degree by private aid groups and to a larger extent by the Burmese military.

"Do I know where they're going? I do not," Keating said. But he added, "We have reasonable confidence, but not 100 percent confidence," that the relief supplies are going to the civilians who most need them. He said he has "no information" that the Burmese military is hoarding high-value gear such as mosquito netting and plastic sheeting needed for shelter.

"There's a certain amount of faith that it's getting downrange" to destitute Burmese in the devastated Irrawaddy Delta region, Keating said. Civilian relief workers who have been to the delta "say some of it is getting there," he said.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis hammered the low-lying delta area on May 2 and 3 with 120 mph sustained winds, torrential rains and a 12-foot storm surge. The disaster left more than 134,000 people dead or missing, and foreign relief officials have warned that thousands more could die of disease or famine unless the Burmese government opens its doors to more help.

When Keating and other U.S. officials flew into Rangoon on May 11 with the first American planeload of supplies, he said, he informed Burmese authorities that the United States was capable of moving 250,000 pounds of supplies a day by helicopter to the disaster zone.

"I assured our Burmese colleagues that we would do this without fingerprint," he said. That is, the operation would be "entirely self-sufficient," there would be no need for fuel, food, lodging or other provisions, and U.S. personnel could come in at first light and leave the country in the evening if necessary, he said. He also invited the Burmese to put military or civilian officials on U.S. planes or helicopters and to observe operations aboard the Essex, a 40,500-ton amphibious assault ship that can carry as many as 36 helicopters.

Keating said he assured the Burmese that "we had no military intentions" in Burma and that once the relief operation was completed, "we will leave [and] you will not know we were here." Burmese officials said they understood but could not give approval and had to take the proposals to higher authorities. Since then, however, there has been no indication of any intention by the ruling junta to allow in greater quantities of U.S. relief.

"All it would take is a yes, and significant material would be going ashore in an hour," Keating said. He said there is still a need for relief supplies, including food, water and shelter, and that the United States could help to a much greater extent if asked.

"We believe there is still a mission for us," he said.

In contrast, Keating said, China has been responsive to U.S. offers of help in the wake of the earthquake that struck Sichuan province two weeks ago, leaving more than 88,000 people dead or missing. Chinese authorities have been much more open about the disaster and more receptive to foreign help than in the past, he said.

The admiral said there has been a "night-and-day difference" between the Burmese and Chinese governments' attitudes toward foreign relief efforts.

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Offline Brocke

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2008, 10:41:24 pm »
U.S. Navy Waiting for Junta's Permission to Deliver Burma Aid

Deliver aid? Yeah, right! Junta or no, they are wise to be cautious about letting in US and UN troops!

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #36 on: May 29, 2008, 12:42:36 pm »
Deliver aid? Yeah, right! Junta or no, they are wise to be cautious about letting in US and UN troops!

I know. Notice they said they could be in and out daily. I wonder if the Junta is simply more worried about the psychological influence of US presence than they are the physical? People are starving and angry.
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Offline MikiQuick123

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2008, 07:48:49 pm »

The Associated Press

UN: Myanmar forcing cyclone survivors out of camps

4 hours ago
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar's military government is forcing cyclone victims out of refugee camps and "dumping" them near their devastated villages with virtually no aid supplies, U.N. and church officials said Friday.

Eight camps set up by the junta for homeless victims in the Irrawaddy delta town of Bogalay were "totally empty" as the clear-out continued, said Teh Tai Ring of UNICEF, speaking at a meeting of U.N. and private aid agency workers discussing water and sanitation issues.

"The government is moving people unannounced," he said, adding that authorities were "dumping people in the approximate location of the villages, basically with nothing."

After his remarks were reported, UNICEF issued a statement saying they referred to "unconfirmed reports by relief workers on the relocation of displaced people" affected by the May 2-3 storm.

However, Teh said the information came from a relief worker who had just returned from the affected area and that "tears were shed" when he recounted his findings to UNICEF officials earlier in the day.

At a church in Yangon, meanwhile, more than 400 cyclone victims from the delta township of Labutta were evicted Friday following orders from authorities a day earlier.

"It was a scene of sadness, despair and pain," said a church official at the Yangon Karen Baptist Home Missions, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of official reprisal. "Those villagers lost their homes, their family members and the whole village was washed away. They have no home to go back to."

All the refugees except for a few pregnant women, two young children and those with severe illnesses left the church in 11 trucks Friday morning, the official said.

Authorities told church workers the victims would first be taken to a government camp in Myaung Mya — a mostly undamaged town in the Irrawaddy delta. It was not immediately clear when they would be resettled in their villages.

Aid groups said Myanmar's military government was still hindering foreign assistance for victims of the cyclone, despite a promise to U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon to ease travel restrictions.

Some foreign aid workers are still awaiting visas, and the government is taking 48 hours to process requests to enter the Irrawaddy delta, the groups said.

They said the International Red Cross was waiting for permission to send 30 foreign staffers into the delta.

An estimated 2.4 million people remain homeless and hungry from the cyclone, which left at least 134,000 people dead or missing.

UNICEF's Teh said many people were also being forced to return from camps to their homes in Labutta, a low-lying area that took the brunt of Cyclone Nargis nearly a month ago.

Centralizing stricken people in the centers had made it easier for aid agencies to deliver emergency relief since many villages in the delta can only be reached by boat or over very rough roads.

The UNICEF official said some refugees were "given rations and then they are forced to move." But others were denied aid because they had lost their government identity cards, he said.
The government has not given a reason for moving people out of camps and shelters, but last week it declared the "relief" phase of the rescue effort over and said "reconstruction" was under way.

Foreign aid experts disagree, arguing many people are still in need of emergency assistance for food and shelter, as well as medical care.

Aid workers who have reached some of the remote villages say little remains to sustain survivors. Houses are destroyed, livestock have perished and food stocks have virtually run out. Medicines are nonexistent.

Terje Skavdal, a senior U.N. official in Bangkok, said he could not confirm the camp closures but any forced movement was "completely unacceptable."
"People need to be assisted in the settlements and satisfactory conditions need to created before they can return to their place of origins," Skavdal, head of the Asia-Pacific region's U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters. "Any forced or coerced movement of people is completely unacceptable."

"We urge speedy implementation of all agreements on access, visas and use of logistical assets," Skavdal said. "We need to see more relief experts, including (those) from the (International Red Cross), getting into the delta as soon as possible without bureaucratic hindrance."

The government has said the wait for approval to enter the delta has been shortened from two weeks to two days for U.N. staff, but "it's unclear how long the process will be for the NGOs (non-governmental organizations). The staff are urgently required on the ground," he said.

The military regime only agreed to allow foreign aid workers in after the U.N. chief met with junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe last weekend.

The country's leaders are leery of foreign aid workers and international agencies, worrying they could weaken the junta's powerful grip.
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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2008, 11:28:09 am »
International Herald Tribune
Myanmar junta is guilty of 'criminal neglect,' Gates says
By Eric Schmitt
Sunday, June 1, 2008
BANGKOK: Defense Secretary Robert Gates of the United States said Sunday that Myanmar was guilty of "criminal neglect" for blocking large-scale international aid to cyclone victims and that more Burmese civilians would perish unless the military regime reversed its policy.

But despite the rising anger and frustration with Myanmar's military leaders, Gates said that defense ministers meeting in Singapore over the weekend had unanimously opposed any plan to violate Burmese sovereignty and forcibly provide relief supplies.

As a result, he said, it was probably "a matter of days" before the Pentagon withdrew four navy ships carrying supplies that have been "steaming in circles" for days in the waters off Myanmar's coast, waiting in vain for permission to ferry their cargo to storm-stricken areas.

"It's becoming pretty clear that the regime there is not going to let us help," Gates, in the strongest remarks to date by a high-ranking U.S. official, said in Singapore before heading to Bangkok on the third leg of a weeklong trip to Asia. "I'd say that unless the regime changes its approach, changes its policy, more people will die."

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who joined Gates to answer questions, said that the government of Myanmar had given permission for 95 U.S. C-130 cargo planes to land in Yangon, the country's main city, but that much more could be brought in from the navy vessels. The relief flights have ferried in more than about 680,000 kilograms, or 1.5 million pounds, of supplies, mostly food, water, mosquito netting and plastic sheeting for shelters.

At least 135,000 people are dead or missing since a cyclone struck Myanmar on May 3; it is the world's biggest natural disaster since the Asian tsunami in 2004. The United Nations estimates that 2.4 million survivors face hunger and homelessness, many in the Irrawaddy Delta, the region hit hardest by the storm.

"Even though aid is beginning to flow," Gates said, "so many parts of the Irrawaddy Delta are cut off from any kind of transportation that it's really going to require helicopters to get assistance to them."

The U.S. Navy vessels, led by the amphibious assault ship Essex, have on board 22 helicopters, medical equipment, relief supplies, water purification systems and navy and Marine Corps personnel - all of which have been offered to the government of Myanmar to assist those affected by the cyclone.

When asked whether the Myanmar government's actions were tantamount to genocide, Gates stopped short of that accusation. "The way I would describe it, I guess, is criminal neglect," he said.

At the meeting of defense ministers, Myanmar's military junta defended its response to Cyclone Nargis, saying that it had promptly provided relief to storm victims and that it expected the country to quickly recover, The Associated Press reported.

"Due to the prompt work" of the military government, food, water and medicine were provided to all victims, Aye Myint, the deputy defense minister, said, The AP said. "I believe the resettlement and rehabilitation process will be speedy."

Aye Myint also said that the junta had broadcast warnings about the cyclone more than a week in advance.

Gates, normally understated and unflappable under the most pointed questioning, flashed anger when asked about U.S. efforts to deliver relief aid to the cyclone victims. He noted that the United States had tried at least 15 times in the past month to get Myanmar's leaders to allow more international aid into the country, to no avail, and he called the government "deaf and dumb" for obstructing relief efforts.

"We have really exercised our moral obligation above and beyond the call," he said Sunday.

At a private lunch Saturday for defense officials from two dozen countries, mostly in Asia, Gates said that minister after minister had voiced unhappiness with Myanmar's restrictions on aid, making it an uncomfortable meal for Aye Myint.

In contrast, Gates said the chief delegate from China, Lieutenant General Ma Xiaotian, had cited the importance of international support in dealing with the May 12 earthquake, which killed more than 68,000 people, and he expressed China's appreciation for how the international community had responded.

Gates said, however, that the ministers drew the line at using force to distribute aid. "There is great sensitivity all over the world to violating a country's sovereignty," he said, "particularly in the absence of some kind of UN umbrella that would authorize it."

When asked whether that reluctance might be a consequence of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Gates insisted there was no connection.

At the news conference, Gates responded to several other issues, including statements that Ma made Saturday objecting to the U.S. missile-defense system as harmful to regional stability.

"It's hard to see a limited capability such as we have and will have in the future undermining the offensive capability of either Russia or China," Gates said, referring to the relatively small number of interceptors the United States could use against a long-range missile strike.

"Clearly, a system that is designed to handle a relatively small number of incoming missiles is easily going to be overwhelmed should a country with scores if not hundreds of missiles launch an attack."

In Bangkok, Gates's aides said that the secretary had made clear in a meeting Sunday afternoon with the Thai prime minister and a dozen top military officers that the Bush administration would frown on any attempt by the military to seize power.

A week of anti-government protests in Thailand have stirred fears that the military may stage another coup, two years after a similar street campaign against then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra led to his removal. Thai military commanders have denied reports that the army was plotting a takeover.

"Our position is pretty consistent," Gates said in Singapore. "We want to see democratically elected governments, and we will convey that."

In Gates's meeting with the current prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, U.S. officials said, the secretary reaffirmed Washington's support for civilian rule and democratic principles.

Samak threatened Saturday to use the police to break up a rally of 6,500 anti-government protesters. But the police did not act after an apparent reversal by Samak, who accused the news media of misreporting his remarks.
International Herald Tribune Copyright © 2008 The International Herald Tribune |
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"-Edmund Burke

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Re: Myanmar - 100,000 Dead, hundreds of thousands more may die
« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2008, 02:11:41 pm »

junta is guilty of 'criminal neglect'

Isn't that what juntas do!?

Military rule (1962-present)

Democratic rule ended in 1962 when General Ne Win led a military coup d'état. He ruled for nearly 26 years and pursued policies under the rubric of the Burmese Way to Socialism. Between 1962 and 1974, Myanmar was ruled by a revolutionary council headed by the general, and almost all aspects of society (business, media, production) were nationalized or brought under government control (including the Boy Scouts).[22] In an effort to consolidate power, General Ne Win and many top generals resigned from the military and took civilian posts and, from 1974, instituted elections in a one party system. Between 1974 and 1988, Myanmar was effectively ruled by General Ne Win through the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP).[31]

Almost from the beginning there were sporadic protests against the military rule, many of which were organized by students, and these were almost always violently suppressed by the government. On July 7, 1962 the government broke up demonstrations at Rangoon University killing 15 students.[22] In 1974, the military violently suppressed anti-government protests at the funeral of U Thant. Student protests in 1975, 1976 and 1977 were quickly suppressed by overwhelming force.[31]

In 1988, unrest over economic mismanagement and political oppression by the government led to widespread pro-democracy demonstrations throughout the country known as the 8888 Uprising. Security forces killed thousands of demonstrators, and General Saw Maung staged a coup d'état and formed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). In 1989, SLORC declared martial law after widespread protests. The military government finalized plans for People's Assembly elections on 31 May 1989.[32]

SLORC changed the country's official English name from the "Union of Burma" to the "Union of Myanmar" in 1989.

In May 1990, the government held free elections for the first time in almost 30 years. The National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, won 392 out of a total 489 seats, but the election results were annulled by SLORC, which refused to step down.[33] Led by Than Shwe since 1992, the military regime has made cease-fire agreements with most ethnic guerrilla groups. In 1992, SLORC unveiled plans to create a new constitution through the National Convention, which began 9 January 1993. To date, this military-organized National Convention has not produced a new constitution despite well over ten years of operation.[34] In 1997, the State Law and Order Restoration Council was renamed the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

On 23 June 1997, Myanmar was admitted into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The National Convention continues to convene and adjourn. Many major political parties, particularly the NLD, have been absent or excluded, and little progress has been made.[34] On 27 March 2006, the military junta, which had moved the national capital from Yangon to a site near Pyinmana in November 2005, officially named it Naypyidaw, meaning "city of the kings".[35]

In November 2006, the International Labour Organization announced it will be seeking "to prosecute members of the ruling Myanmar junta for crimes against humanity" over the continuous forced labour of its citizens by the military at the International Court of Justice.[36] According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 800,000 people are subject to forced labour in Myanmar.[37]

Where was the UN and the US during this period.


Drug trade

The country is a corner of the Golden Triangle of opium production. Neither Burma, Vietnam, Laos or Thailand had any history of opium production until colonial times[91], yet from then until very recently, most of the world's heroin came from the Golden Triangle, including Burma.

The main player in the country's drug market is the United Wa State Army, ethnic fighters who control areas along the country's eastern border with Thailand, part of the infamous Golden Triangle. The Wa army, an ally of Burma's ruling military junta, was once the militant arm of the Beijing-backed Burmese Communist Party. Burma has been a significant cog in the transnational drug trade since World War II.[92][93]

Poppy cultivation in the country decreased more than 80 percent from 1998 to 2006 following an eradication campaign in the Golden Triangle. Officials with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime say opium poppy farming is now expanding. The number of hectares used to grow the crops in has bounced back 29 percent this year. A U.N. report cites corruption, poverty and a lack of government control as causes for the jump.[94]

Hmmm, drugs...hmmm!


Modern economy

Today, the country lacks adequate infrastructure. Goods travel primarily across the Thai border, where most illegal drugs are exported, and along the Ayeyarwady River. Railroads are old and rudimentary, with few repairs since their construction in the late nineteenth century.[120] Highways are normally unpaved, except in the major cities.[120] Energy shortages are common throughout the country including in Yangon. Burma is also the world's second largest producer of opium, accounting for 8% of entire world production and is a major source of illegal drugs, including amphetamines.[121] Other industries include agricultural goods, textiles, wood products, construction materials, gems, metals, oil and natural gas.

The major agricultural product is rice which covers about 60% of the country's total cultivated land area. Rice accounts for 97% of total food grain production by weight. Through collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), 52 modern rice varieties were released in the country between 1966 and 1997, helping increase national rice production to 14 million tons in 1987 and to 19 million tons in 1996. By 1988, modern varieties were planted on half of the country's ricelands, including 98 percent of the irrigated areas.[122]

The lack of an educated workforce skilled in modern technology contributes to the growing problems of the economy.[123]

Inflation is a serious problem for the economy. In April 2007, the National League for Democracy organized a two-day workshop on the economy. The workshop concluded that skyrocketing inflation was impeding economic growth. "Basic commodity prices have increased from 30 to 60 percent since the military regime promoted a salary increase for government workers in April 2006," said Soe Win, the moderator of the workshop. "Inflation is also correlated with corruption." Myint Thein, an NLD spokesperson, added: "Inflation is the critical source of the current economic crisis."[124] The corruption watchdog organization Transparency International in its 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index released on September 26, 2007 ranked Burma the most corrupt country in the world, tied with Somalia.[125]


That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.
~Aldous Huxley

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. - ~Friedrich Nietzsche