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Posts Tagged ‘Cyclone disaster

Myanmar starts evictions from cyclone camps

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30 May 2008

Members of the Singapore Red Cross prepare to leave for Myanmar with S$20,000 ($14,710) worth of medical aid at Singapore's Changi Airport May 23, 2008. (Vivek Prakash/Reuters)

Reuters Photo: Members of the Singapore Red Cross prepare to leave for Myanmar with S$20,000 ($14,710) worth…
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KYAUKTAN, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s junta started evicting destitute families from government-run cyclone relief centers on Friday, apparently out of concern the ‘tented villages’ might become permanent.

“It is better that they move to their homes where they are more stable,” a government official said at one camp where people have been told to clear out by 4 pm (0930 GMT). “Here, they are relying on donations and it is not stable.”

Locals and aid workers said 39 camps in the immediate vicinity of Kyauktan, 30 km (19 miles) south of Yangon, were being cleared out as part of a general eviction plan.

“We knew we had to go at some point but we had hoped for more support,” 21-year-old trishaw driver Kyaw Moe Thu said as he trudged out of the camp with his five brothers and sisters, the youngest of whom is just 2- years old.

They had been given 20 bamboo poles and some tarpaulins to help rebuild their lives in the Irrawaddy delta, where 134,000 people were left dead or missing by Cyclone Nargis on May 2.

“Right now, we are disappointed,” he said.

Four weeks after the disaster, the United Nations says fewer than one in two of the 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone have received any form of help from either the government, or international or local aid groups.

Rumors are flying around the international aid community in Yangon that the evictions are occurring in state-run refugee centers across the delta.

The U.N., which has local and foreign aid workers in the delta, said it did not know if that was the case.

“We certainly don’t endorse premature return to where there are no services, and any forced or coerced movement is completely unacceptable,” U.N. spokeswoman Amanda Pitt said in Bangkok.

“CHOCOLATE BARS”

The evictions come a day after official media in the army-run former Burma lashed out at offers of foreign aid, criticizing donors’ demands for access to the Irrawaddy delta and saying cyclone victims could “stand by themselves.”

“The people from Irrawaddy can survive on self-reliance without chocolate bars donated by foreign countries,” the Kyemon newspaper said in a Burmese-language editorial.

As with all media, it is tightly controlled by the army and is believed to reflect the thinking of the top generals, who until now have shown signs of growing, albeit grudging, acceptance of outside cyclone assistance.

The editorial also accused the international community of being stingy, noting that the United Nations’ “flash appeal” was still a long way short of its $201 million target nearly four weeks after the disaster, which left 134,000 dead or missing.

The level of aid stands in stark contrast to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when governments around the world promised $2 billion within the first week.

The tone of the editorial is at odds with recent praise of the U.N. relief effort, but follows criticism of the junta’s extension this week of the five-year house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

U.S. President George W. Bush said he was “deeply troubled” by the extension and called for the more than 1,000 political prisoners to be freed.

The State Department said the Nobel laureate’s detention would not affect U.S. cyclone aid, but a top U.S. commander said warships laden with aid would leave waters near the delta if they did not get a green light soon.

(Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Sanjeev Miglani)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080530/wl_nm/myanmar_cyclone_dc_5;_ylt=AkUEuf4tygL.0wamV9CWIMv9xg8F

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 30, 2008 at 8:18 am

China Condemned for Blocking UN Action on Burma

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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.
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?”

Read the full statement and get more info from the Burma Campaign UK.

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.

Read more from Simon Billenness about groups working in Burma and the U.S. Campaign for Burma’s political and humanitarian efforts.

http://us.oneworld.net/article/view/160585/1/3319

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

May 18, 2008 at 5:18 am