UN halts aid shipments to Burma, accuses government of seizing supplies




The United Nations is suspending aid shipments to Burma, where authorities have begun seizing supplies intended for some 1.5 million cyclone survivors, a UN spokesman said Friday.

All food aid and other supplies delivered by the UN World Food Program, whose four planes touched down in Burma for the first time Thursday, have been confiscated by the ruling military junta, said Paul Risley.

More than 34 tonnes of high-energy biscuits were among the supplies.

Risley said he didn't know why the supplies had been seized, but the move has left the WFP with "no choice" but to suspend its aid shipments.

A relief plane from Qatar was able to drop off supplies in the southeast Asian country Friday, but humanitarian workers and journalists on board were turned away. A U.S. offer to help the cyclone-ravaged country was rejected Thursday.

Burmese officials expressed gratitude for the planes loaded with supplies that have landed in the country, but urged agencies to send materials rather than personnel.

Earlier Friday, Risley called the refusal by Burma's isolationist junta to give visas to relief workers looking to help victims in the cyclone-ravaged country "unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts."

He said the organization has submitted 10 visa applications around the world, including six in Bangkok, but none have been granted.

Humanitarian agencies fear delays in issuing visas to relief workers could push the death toll from last Saturday's cyclone above 100,000 as victims run out of safe drinking water and food.

"The military government has said that they don't need any expertise on the ground, they are adamant about this, so now it's really a stalemate here and people are really wondering how desperate [things] are going to get," the CBC's Michel Cormier reported from Bangkok on Friday.
U.S., France consider unilateral action

Both American and French officials have raised the idea of dropping aid into Burma unilaterally, without permission from the ruling military junta. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of the aid group Doctors Without Borders, said this week that unauthorized air drops could be permitted under the UN's "responsibility to protect" mandate, which applies to civilians.

Such an approach, however, raises both political and practical problems, especially regarding how the aid would then be distributed among survivors.

"How would you in practice deliver supplies to individuals and families if the authorities of the country don't want that to happen? I think that raises many, many issues," said Richard Horsey, a Bangkok-based spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Aid.

He said the UN and its partners have been able to reach 276,000 of the more than 1.5 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis as of two days ago, and more have been assisted since then. While foreign aid workers have not been banned outright, he said, key UN personnel are still waiting for the green light to enter the country.

"It's more than just getting resources to Rangoon, it's more than just getting supplies there. We need to have the structures in place to run an efficient operation and the logistical capacity in terms of boats, and helicopters and so on to get it quickly out to the people who need it," Horsey said.

Reports have appeared of entire villages submerged, bodies floating in salty water and children searching for their families. A number of countries, including Canada, have urged the Burmese to allow relief workers in.

Late Thursday, Burma rejected an offer from the U.S. to send transport planes packed with supplies into the country. The planes were waiting in neighbouring Thailand for permission to enter.

"We are in a long line of nations who are ready, willing and able to help, but also, of course, in a long line of nations the Burmese don't trust," U.S. Ambassador Eric John told reporters in Bangkok on Thursday.

In a statement early Friday, the Foreign Ministry officials said one relief flight was sent back after landing in Rangoon because the search-and-rescue team and media on board had not received permission to enter the country.

State-owned TV showed a cargo plane from Italy with water containers, food and plastic sheets arriving at Rangoon's international airport.

Burmese officials did issue a plea for international help earlier in the week, but the reclusive junta has been accused of dragging its feet.

Sometimes the forces of nature will work to balance out the scales. Interferring in the ratio of living human beings with the supporting environment and facility to manage one's own situation is antithetical to this balance.

It's too bad (perhaps) that the people of Burma will suffer, but like the people of any other nation...they're ultimately responsible for the situation they created or stood-by and failed to oppose.
Wish I'da publicly predicted this. Been following the story, and just knew I was going to be very much "unsurprised" when the UN hit the wall.

The majority of supplies that got in will be available tomorrow on the black market.

How does one become so jaded one EXPECTS this to happen?

(sounds like something out of hurricane Katrina)
Because dear Nugg that's the world created by people prepared to forego principle in the name of expediency.
A letter in the Globe and Mail today, written by those two Liberal worthies (now THERE'S a contradiction in terms) Lloyd Axworthy and Allan Rock.

In it, they demand R2P be invoked to save the people of Burma. Sounds good? Oh it is.......until the last paragraph in which they clarify that "R2P's chief goal is to use a variety of diplomatic forms of persuation and influence to prevent or react to a humanitarian atrocity or catastrophe."


In other words, let's send some more over-priced, fat suits flying around the world in an absolute tither, to talk about the disaster......while people die in the tens of thousands.

These guys don't have enough IQ between the two of them to make a sum of three digits.

Their major real political accomplishment has been to avoid drooling on their shoes in public.


I couln't agree more!
What a bunch of jerks these guys are. We all know that starvation is a weapon and that the junta which is already shakey to begin with will keep the food and distribute to areas as they see fit. The other, more troublesome areas will be left to suffer. This cyclone probably wiped out 500,000 people with more to go for sure. In essense it quelled dissent. The more they starve and wallow in sickness the less they are apt to be a trouble. Now all the people want to do is survive.

It's time to stop talking about talking and finally take action and talk..... pssh. :P
But haven't we seen the same behavior from many other juntas and puppet governments before all around the world? I agree, when food to Darfur and Afghansitan, medical supplies to Indonesia and construction materials etc. are high-jacked by "quick-and-easy-profiteers" it really puts the whole notion of who one embraces as an "ally" to question.
Well I don't think that I'm going to donate to the feathered nest of these despots anymore. If the aid is being stolen and used for purposes other than intended, then I'm just helping support these corrupt gov'ts- I'll just give my allotted charity to democratic nations or more importantly feed the poor here.
Quote: Originally Posted by LesterView Post

Well I don't think that I'm going to donate to the feathered nest of these despots anymore. If the aid is being stolen and used for purposes other than intended, then I'm just helping support these corrupt gov'ts- I'll just give my allotted charity to democratic nations or more importantly feed the poor here.

See we all learn something.... don't donate to charities, you'll only make things worse
Quote: Originally Posted by PraxiusView Post


It's time to stop talking about talking and finally take action and talk..... pssh. :P

Exactly....I love it!

Lets blame the UN for turning Burma into an Open-air Prison!
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