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Archive for May 23rd, 2008

UN chief says junta to let aid workers into Myanmar

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The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, left, meeting with the leader of Myanmar’s military junta, Senior General Than Shwe, in in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on Friday. (Pool photo by Stan Honda)

UN chief says junta to let aid workers into Myanmar

Published: May 23, 2008

BANGKOK: In what he said appeared to be a breakthrough after three weeks of obstructionism, the United Nations general secretary, Ban Ki-moon, said Friday that the leader of Myanmar’s military junta had promised to allow into the country “all aid workers” of any nationality.

But Ban gave no indication when the Myanmar government would allow aid workers to enter the country and whether they would be allowed to travel to the badly-hit Irrawaddy Delta.

The statement was met with surprise and wariness by relief officials, including some affiliated with the United Nations, who have been struggling since the cyclone against the intransigence of the Myanmar authorities to let in aid workers.

“I had a very good meeting with the Senior General, particularly on these aid workers,” said Ban, according to international news service reporters who were invited to travel with him to Myanmar.

Describing an uncharacteristic attitude by the usually tough and combative leader, Senior General Than Shwe, Ban added: “He has taken quite a flexible position on this matter.”

On Sunday, Ban was to join an international donors conference in Myanmar at which the United Nations and the regional grouping, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, are to discuss the delivery and allocation of humanitarian assistance.

The junta has asked for $11.7 billion in international assistance, said the Asean secretary general, Surin Pitsuwan.

Relief officials said a key issue would be whether any more relief workers allowed in from outside would be allowed free access to hard-hit areas where the United Nations says only a quarter of some 2.4 million victims of the cyclone have been reached with aid.

In recent days, Myanmar has allowed a modest flow of supplies and relief workers into the country, but the military government continues to bar foreigners from entering the delta region to assess damage and coordinate the delivery of aid.

“Translating what you hear in a place like that into reality — we will have to wait and see what will happen,” said Lionel Rosenblatt, president emeritus of the humanitarian agency Refugees International.

In the diplomatic campaign to provide cyclone relief, one major issue has been all-but ignored: the abuses of human rights and political freedoms that have been almost the sole agenda of the United Nations and Western nations in Myanmar for nearly two decades.

In talking with reporters, Ban did not mention Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader, whose freedom from house arrest has been the chief demand of the international community and whose detention reaches what appears to be a statutory five-year limit at midnight on Saturday.

If her detention is renewed, human rights workers say, the junta will be perpetuating an abuse and violating its own laws in the presence of the United Nations secretary general and foreign diplomats.

“With the cyclone, the whole political side of the crisis has just dropped off the map,” said Benjamin Zawacki, a researcher with the human rights group Amnesty International.

Ban’s meeting with Shwe came on the second day of a visit during which he took a helicopter tour of affected areas and met with government officials and relief workers.

At the donors’ conference on Sunday, Ban was scheduled to meet with representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, which reached an agreement this week to coordinate humanitarian  assistance.

Although the United Nations says millions of people are still in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical supplies, the junta insists that “the emergency phase of the operation is over” and that donors should focus on reconstruction, which would include instead large amounts of machinery and materials.

“This discrepancy is a confidence gap that has to be verified, that has to be reconciled,” said the Asean secretary general, Surin Pitsuwan. “Whether the Sunday pledging conference will be successful or not depends on the ability to reconcile the difference.” He added that without international access to the worst-hit areas, “the shared concern is we don’t know the extent of the damage. We don’t know the number of the missing or the number of the displaced.”

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/05/23/asia/myanmar.php

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Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm

(Burmese language) True story from an interview about relief work in Cyclone disaster

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This posting is grabbed from Burma Digest.

http://burmadigest.info/2008/05/17/talking-with-a-volunteer-aid-worker-burmese/

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm

World Focus on Burma (23 May 08)

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Latest news on the disaster in Myanmar (Burma)New!

Click here to support the victims of the cyclone in Myanmar (Burma)New!


Times Now.tv
Junta says it will allow all aid workers into Myanmar
International Herald Tribune –
“If the donors don’t deliver a strong message to the military regime, the generals will get away again and the UN will become again another laughing stock,” said Soe Aung, a spokesman for the National Council of the Union of Burma, a coalition of …
Myanmar to allow in UN aid workers Aljazeera.net
Myanmar Junta Drops Ban on Cyclone Relief Workers (Update2) Bloomberg
CNN InternationalThe Associated PressReutersAftenposten
all 4,148 news articles »

China Post
National soccer team to resume training next month in cyclone-hit …
Xinhua –
YANGON, May 23 (Xinhua) — Myanmar national soccer team will be camped next month to resume training for the forthcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup in India in July after the suspension of it due to deadly cyclone Nargis early …
ASEAN, Indonesia and Myanmar Forcing help on Myanmar Economist
Myanmar junta stance on foreign aid a crime – monks Reuters
AFPReliefWeb (press release)Thai News Agency MCOTXinhua
all 1,361 news articles »

Nation Multimedia
Referendum in Burma disaster zone
Radio Netherlands –
By our editorial staff One would think that the last thing the survivors of Cyclone Nargis which struck Burma on the first week of May would have on their minds is a referendum.
Myanmar’s Suu Kyi votes on proposed charter: official AFP
Burma is a brutal military regime, not a socialist one Ottawa Citizen
Los Angeles TimesBangkok PostHindustan TimesAFP
all 60 news articles »

The Southern Ledger
UN says it is ready to step up aid to Myanmar once it gets details …
Malaysia Star –
GENEVA (AP): International aid agencies are ready to step up relief to cyclone victims in Myanmar as soon as they learn the “practical details” of the country’s new commitment to admit all aid workers to the devastated region, officials said Friday.
UN says it is ready to step up Myanmar aid The Associated Press
France to seek UN resolution on aid deliveries if Myanmar doesn’t … International Herald Tribune
ReliefWeb (press release)Hindustan TimesPRESS TVThe Associated Press
all 158 news articles »

Sunday Mail
BURMA: BAN KI-MOON IN FACE-TO-FACE MEETING WITH JUNTA CHIEFS
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia –
(AGI) – Naypydaw (Burma), 23rd May – Having arrived yesterday in Naypydaw – the village in the midst of the dense Burmese jungle which has replaced Yangon (formerly Rangoon) as capital of the Asian state, Ban Ki-moon was at last officially greeted by …
Commentary: How the world is failing Burma Democratic Voice of Burma
Trauma risk for Burma aid workers BBC News
Washington PostBury Free PressBelfast TelegraphTimes Online
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Pattaya Daily News
Thai ties bind Myanmar cyclone relief
Asia Times Online –
By Brian McCartan CHIANG MAI, Thailand – As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bids to play a front-line role in the relief efforts in cyclone-hit Myanmar, members’ respective bilateral policies towards the military regime promise to …
UN chief tours two cyclone-hit areas in Myanmar Xinhua
ASEAN chief pushes for transparency ahead of donors’ conference … International Herald Tribune
People’s Daily OnlineReliefWeb (press release)XinhuaXinhua
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Voice of America
Burma’s leaders under pressure to meet aid conditions
Radio Australia –
Burma’s military leaders are under pressure to meet a series of conditions ahead of a planned meeting of donor countries this weekend.
ASEAN Warns Burma to Boost Confidence Ahead of Donors Meeting Voice of America
Asean to set up ‘coalition’ to coordinate cyclone relief Bangkok Post
guardian.co.ukEconomic TimesOxford Analytica (subscription)Parlamento Europeo (Comunicados de prensa)
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AFP
Laura Bush to Myanmar: ‘Let people of US help’
AFP –
“I just want to urge the government of Burma to make sure people get this help,” she said, calling the country by its former name.
Still Not Too Late for Myanmar New York Times
Myanmar refuse aid delivered by US military New Zealand Herald
The Associated PressInternational Herald TribuneTeleTextAFP
all 108 news articles »

The Associated Press
Ask AP: Helping Myanmar; India and China’s cars
The Associated Press –
Survivors of the devastating cyclone that hit Myanmar nearly three weeks ago are in desperate need of help. And until Friday, when UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the country’s rulers agreed to let in “all aid workers,” the country’s reclusive …

Boston Globe
In Torn Myanmar, Relief Goes Underground
Wall Street Journal –
Another possible rallying point comes Saturday, when Myanmar’s leaders plan the second round of a referendum to approve a constitution that would further entrench their rule over this country, previously known as Burma. Associated Press Buddhist monks, …
Junta Offers Showcase Camps, but Most Burmese Lack Aid New York Times
‘This Is What Our Life Is’ Newsweek
New York Times
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The Southern Ledger
FAO regional head: Cyclone damage deteriorates food security in …
Xinhua –
BANGKOK, May 23 (Xinhua) — The damage caused by Cyclone Nargishas deteriorated the food security in Myanmar, with a food shortage crisis to meet the need of 2.4 million affected people and soaring food prices, said the FAO chief here in Asia-Pacific …
Myanmar appears to nix US Navy help, saying “strings attached” International Herald Tribune
First UN food chopper arrives in Burma Melbourne Herald Sun
Aljazeera.netThe Associated PressAgenzia Giornalistica ItaliaAvionews
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RAAF to ferry helicopters to Burma
The Age –
An Australian military aircraft will take part in the effort to help Burma’s cyclone victims, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon says.

Spiegel Online
Through Ingenuity and Infrastructure Aid Flows to Burma Cyclone …
Business Wire (press release) –
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While large foreign aid organizations remain frustrated with their limited access to Burma, Foundation for the People of Burma, a US based, public charity with an extensive network of Burmese staff and volunteers, …
Burma’s Woes: A Threat to the Junta TIME
Don’t forget Burma, says top aid worker NEWS.com.au
ic WalesNew Zealand HeraldChurch TimesIndependent
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AFP
US, aid groups hope to widen small Myanmar opening
Reuters –
US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Berger would use any meetings with officials of the former Burma to press for wider access for outside experts to assess needs.
Spokesman: US official permitted to join tour of cyclone-hit Myanmar Xinhua
Myanmar allows in first US government relief expert: US AFP
Earthtimes (press release)
all 24 news articles »

AFP
UN chief says world watching Myanmar aid effort
AFP –
YANGON (AFP) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Friday the eyes of the world were now on Myanmar after pushing the secretive military regime to accept foreign aid workers to cope with the cyclone disaster.
Spammers exploit tragedies in China and Burma
VNUNet.com –
Several internet security firms have reported phishing scams and Trojans disguised as news reports and donation requests following the cyclone in Burma and the earthquake in China. “There are number of requests for companies to donate funds to disaster …

The Associated Press
UN chief: Myanmar to allow all aid workers
The Associated Press –
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a mission to open Myanmar to international disaster assistance, said the ruling junta agreed Friday to allow “all aid workers” into the country to help survivors.
UN chief says Myanmar agrees to receive aid workers from all countries
Xinhua –
YANGON, May 23 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said here Friday evening that Myanmar agreed to receive aid workers from all countries indiscriminately to help in cyclone relief and rehabilitation efforts.

ABC News
UN Chief Tells ABC News Aid Allowed Into Myanmar
ABC News –
By DAN HARRIS UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that Myanmar’s military government has agreed to let all international disaster assistance into its cyclone-ravaged country.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon gives press conference in Yangon, Myanmar
Xinhua –
YANGON, May 23 (Xinhua) — Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon began meeting the press at the S

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

What Ban said about Burma’s crisis at a press conference (12 May 2008)

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“I want to register my deep concern – and immense frustration – at the unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis,”

Response to cyclone in Myanmar ‘unacceptably slow’ – Ban Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs journalists on the current humanitarian crisis in Myanmar

12 May 2008Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today registered his “immense frustration” with the pace of relief efforts following the cyclone in Myanmar last week, and called on the Government to do everything it could to prevent the disaster from becoming even more serious.“I want to register my deep concern – and immense frustration – at the unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis,” Mr. Ban said today, speaking at a press conference in New York. “Unless more aid gets into the country – very quickly – we face an outbreak of infectious diseases that could dwarf today’s crisis,” he added. “I therefore call, in the most strenuous terms, on the Government of Myanmar to put its people’s lives first. It must do all that it can to prevent the disaster from becoming even more serious.”

International relief agencies estimate that around 1.5 million people are at severe risk following Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on 2 May, while the official death toll reported by the Government has reached almost 32,000, with over 34,000 others missing.

Last week the UN called on the Government to allow aid workers to enter the country more speedily and said that some international relief supplies were being held up at Myanmar’s main airport. Today, Mr. Ban said there were “encouraging signs” that the Government had “made some initial moves to ease access restrictions.” He said many aid airlifts had arrived over the weekend and today, but added that, “much more is needed.”

While the UN and international aid agencies were “well positioned” to help tackle the emergency, Mr. Ban said that staff on the ground “were grievously overstretched and the Government continues to deny visas to most foreign aid workers.”

The Secretary-General said that the UN has been able to reach less than a third of the people at risk – about 270,000 people. He said that the UN World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that the amount of food allowed into the country so far was less than one-tenth of what is needed, while rice stocks within Myanmar were close to exhaustion.

Mr. Ban said he had tried repeatedly over the weekend and last week to telephone Myanmar’s senior General Than Shwe, but had not been able to reach him, so he had delivered a second letter to him through diplomatic channels. The Secretary-General called on the Government to set up major logistics operations to deliver supplies to the most affected areas. He said that “this required the specialized expertise of the major international relief agencies. Myanmar cannot do it alone.”

On Friday, the UN launched a flash appeal asking for $187 to provide urgently needed relief though key UN and other aid agencies. Mr. Ban added that the UN was planning to set up a logistics base in the area, probably in Thailand, to make sure that aid would be “channelled into Myanmar in a systematic and orderly way.”

The UN has identified food, water purification supplies, sanitation facilities, shelter, fuel and essential medical supplies as crucial needs for Myanmar following the disaster. With heavy rain forecast for the near future, aid officials are concerned that exposed populations will face a worsening situation in the days to come.

Speaking about his appeal for a speedier response, Mr. Ban said, “I emphasize that this is not about politics. It is about saving people’s lives. There is absolutely no time to lose.”

Speaking at the same press conference, the UN’s top relief official said that reports from Myanmar indicate that people in the flooded Irrawaddy delta region, which was struck hardest by Cyclone Nargis, had now concentrated in towns and villages on higher ground.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said this would make it easier for agencies to deliver aid to large numbers of people, but that it also increased the risk of infectious disease.

Mr. Holmes said that an increasing number of flights delivering aid were now entering the country, and other relief had begun arriving by sea and land. He said that 34 new visas were now being granted for UN international relief workers, but he added that, while this was welcome, it was “clearly nothing like enough for the scale of the problem we’re trying to deal with.”

At another briefing with journalists held today in Bangkok, Thailand, Richard Horsey, spokesperson for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, (OCHA) said it was “a major logistical challenge to get goods out to the delta” and that there was an “important bottleneck” at Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, which was making it difficult to move relief supplies out into the field.

Despite the difficulties, UN agencies report that they have been active on the ground. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it has begun setting up “child-friendly spaces” in camps where people are sheltering, to ensure that children receive care and protection. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is using boats and vehicles to provide immediate assistance to people in 19 locations in the affected area. The World Food Programme (WFP) has reached 27,000 people in the Irrawaddy delta with crucial food supplies and the World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed experts to support Government relief efforts and to supply emergency health kits.

Meanwhile 20 tons of shelter supplies – plastic sheets and tents – have arrived in Yangon on two trucks sent from the Thai-Myanmar border by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN food agency steps up aid to cyclone-stricken Myanmar

Video |

Audio

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26634&Cr=myanmar&Cr1=

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 23, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Varieties in English

Tagged with ,

Burma: Cyclone updated top news (23 May 2008)

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Referendum in Burma disaster zone

Radio Netherlands –
By our editorial staff One would think that the last thing the survivors of Cyclone Nargis which struck Burma on the first week of May would have on their minds is a referendum.

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Peninsula On-line

Junta says it will allow all aid workers into Myanmar

International Herald Tribune –
By Seth Mydans BANGKOK: Myanmar’s military junta promised Friday to allow into the country “all aid workers” of any nationality, after three weeks of blocking assistance to cyclone victims, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki Moon, announced.
UN chief: Myanmar will take relief aid The Associated Press
NEWSMAKER-Senior General Than Shwe, the “old man” of Myanmar Reuters
CNN InternationalBloombergAljazeera.netABC News
all 5,305 news articles »

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The Southern Ledger

UN says it is ready to step up Myanmar aid

The Associated Press –
GENEVA (AP) – Aid agencies say they are ready to step up relief to cyclone victims in Myanmar following the announcement of new openness by the country.
France to seek UN resolution on aid deliveries if Myanmar doesn’t … International Herald Tribune
Aid agencies up pressure as UN chief visits Myanmar Hindustan Times
PRESS TVThe Associated Press
all 158 news articles »

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All American Patriots (press release)

BURMA: BAN KI-MOON IN FACE-TO-FACE MEETING WITH JUNTA CHIEFS

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia –
(AGI) – Naypydaw (Burma), 23rd May – Having arrived yesterday in Naypydaw – the village in the midst of the dense Burmese jungle which has replaced Yangon (formerly Rangoon) as capital of the Asian state, Ban Ki-moon was at last officially greeted by …
Commentary: How the world is failing Burma Democratic Voice of Burma
Burmese Aid Request Stirs Concerns Washington Post
ChristianTodayBury Free PressBelfast TelegraphThe Age
all 148 news articles »

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Peninsula On-line

NEWSMAKER-Senior General Than Shwe, the “old man” of Myanmar

Reuters –
YANGON, May 23 (Reuters) – A deal between the United Nations and Myanmar to allow foreign aid workers into the cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta looks like a rare concession from the junta’s top general — if it proves to be true.
NEW: UN chief: All aid workers will be allowed into Myanmar CNN International
Myanmar Junta Drops Ban on Cyclone Relief Workers (Update2) Bloomberg
Aljazeera.netThe Associated PressCNNMonsters and Critics.com
all 4,134 news articles »

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TopNews

Thai ties bind Myanmar cyclone relief

Asia Times Online –
By Brian McCartan CHIANG MAI, Thailand – As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bids to play a front-line role in the relief efforts in cyclone-hit Myanmar, members’ respective bilateral policies towards the military regime promise to
UN chief tours two cyclone-hit areas in Myanmar Xinhua
ASEAN chief pushes for transparency ahead of donors’ conference International Herald Tribune
People’s Daily OnlineBangkok PostXinhuaXinhua
all 78 news articles »

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Sabah

National soccer team to resume training next month in cyclone-hit

Xinhua –
YANGON, May 23 (Xinhua) — Myanmar national soccer team will be camped next month to resume training for the forthcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup in India in July after the suspension of it due to deadly cyclone Nargis early
ASEAN, Indonesia and Myanmar Forcing help on Myanmar Economist
Myanmar junta stance on foreign aid a crime – monks Reuters
AFPHindustan TimesReliefWeb (press release)Xinhua
all 1,371 news articles »

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Nation Multimedia

Burma is a brutal military regime, not a socialist one

Ottawa Citizen –
In a 1988 coup, Burma’s current military dictatorship replaced the previous Burmese Socialist Programme Party government, whose slogan, the “Burmese Road to Socialism,” Mr.
Hollywood celebrities urge human rights in Myanmar Los Angeles Times
Myanmar military rulers cannot extend Suu Kyi’s arrest: lawyer AFP
Bangkok PostHindustan TimesForbesRTT News
all 58 news articles »

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lights incense at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon May 22, 2008, before going to view conditions in areas damaged by Cyclone Nargis. (Stan Honda/Pool/Reuters)

Enlarge Photo

Reuters

Junta agreement opens door to more Myanmar aid

Reuters – NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s junta agreed on Friday to admit cyclone aid workers “regardless of nationalities” to the hardest-hit Irrawaddy Delta, a breakthrough for delivering help to survivors, U.N. officials said.

AP –

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 23, 2008 at 1:46 pm