China Condemned for Blocking UN Action on Burma
DENVER, May 17 (OneWorld) – China is taking new heat for blocking a potential UN action that could bring relief to Burmese citizens suffering from the effects of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar (formerly Burma) two weeks ago.
|Myanmar is just south of China. © New Internationalist|
“Any hope that the [UN] Security Council would invoke ‘Responsibility to Protect’ is now dead,” said Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK, a group that has long lobbied internationally on behalf of Burmese citizens.
The “Responsibility to Protect” is a principle that is rapidly gaining acceptance across the world stage, suggesting that the international community has a responsibility to take action when governments fail to protect their people from genocide, massive human rights abuses and other humanitarian crises. (See the Responsibility to Protect project for more on that.
“There is no way China will accept a resolution,” the Burma Campaign’s Faramer added. “The debate must move on to what to do next. With the regime still blocking aid and aid workers, and no hope for Security Council action, governments with the capacity to do so must act unilaterally.”
The Burma Campaign UK’s statement, dated Thursday May 15, continues:
Despite allowing in more aid flights, foreign aid workers were yesterday (May 14) told to leave the Delta region. The majority of Cyclone victims have still not received any aid, and lives are being lost every day. The Burma Campaign UK has also received reports that Burmese aid workers, doctors and medics are also being turned back by army checkpoints.
Diplomatic efforts by regional countries have also failed to extract sufficient concessions from the regime to allow in aid. Cholera and dysentery are spreading.
“Diplomatic efforts have not delivered the results needed to save lives,” said Mark Farmaner. “We have to face up to reality. Every day of delay is costing lives. The UK, USA, and France have ships off the coast that could save lives today. Are we really going to let thousands die just a few miles from life saving food and medicine sitting unused on our ships?”
Writing in OneWorld.net’s analysis section on Friday, Simon Billenness of the U.S. Campaign for Burma offered some suggestions for individuals looking to support humanitarian aid missions that are effectively supporting the victims now.
1. It is best to give donations to small NGOs. The big NGOs (Red Cross, World Vision, etc.) have big publicity machines and are likely not hurting for donations. We should give our “smart money” to the most effective small NGOs who devote their money solely for relief and spend little to no money on fundraising overhead.
2. It is best to give to NGOs who were on the ground prior to the cyclone. They are experienced with Burma, already have a network of Burmese partners, and know how to best bypass the regime’s stealing and corruption.
3. Donate to political action as well as relief. The problem is not that there is insufficient aid. Aid is already piling up on the borders. The real problem is that the Burmese military regime is taking control of aid deliveries and diverting it to feed the army. (The regime is scared that their own troops are hungry and have weapons. The generals fear mutinies and even a large-scale insurrection.) The regime is also refusing access to the affected regions by aid workers and journalists. It will take political pressure on the regime to force them to let in the aid. That requires funding the organizations that are organizing the most effective political pressure.