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article imageBurma Military Hoarding Aid Shipments

By Gar Swaffar     May 15, 2008 in World
The military junta of Burma is reportedly hoarding part of the aid shipments entering the country in expectation of another cyclone event.
While nearly all of the aid organizations have refused to be identified by name for fear of jeopardizing their mission in Burma, Marcel Wagner, country director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency has stated very plainly that the Military junta of Burma have been hoarding aid shipments for the use of the military junta leaders and the military personnel who maintain control of the population.
The situation in the Irrawaddy delta remains a serious relief problem due to continuing problems with the distribution of the few aid shipments which have been delivered.
The official position of the Burmese government is that no outbreaks of disease nor that any of the survivors were starving.
The Associated Press reported that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of Thailand arrived for a meeting with Prime Minister Thein Sein of Myanmar on Wednesday, a week and a half after the cyclone devastated the delta region. Sundaravej told The AP that the government had given its "guarantee" that there were no disease outbreaks and that no survivors were starving.
The statements ring hollow against the consistent rise in the estimates of the death toll for the cyclone event.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of Thailand after a visit to Burma also told The AP that Myanmar's rulers did not want any foreign aid workers because they "have their own team to cope with the situation."
Transporting relief aid by water buffalo and rickshaw is apparently fast enough for Prime Minister Thein Sein of Burma. With not nearly enough aid being allowed in, and no foreign aid workers being allowed in country, and the logistics problems of small airports is added the possibility of another cyclone approaching the same area.
The U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center said there was a good chance that "a significant tropical cyclone" would form within the next 24 hours and head across the Irrawaddy Delta.
Wagner and his team, despite having ongoing projects in the country of Burma before the cyclone, have not been allowed to visit the storm ravaged interior of the Irrawaddy district. Mr Wagners team have previously been involved with bringing safe drinking water collection and water filtration. Precisely the sort of help the Burmese survivors are in dire need of at this time.
Soon the looming monsoon season will make travel in the Delta region even more difficult and the possibility of more needless deaths is a near certain gamble which the Burmese government seems willing to take to keep foreign aid workers from accessing the survivors.
The largest fear of the ruling generals seems to be an invasion from the foreign workers.
"These guys really believe we are planning an invasion," Shari Villarosa, the senior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Yangon said. The United States said this week that several of its military ships were in the area and ready to provide help in Myanmar. "It's nuts! We're not! But if they hear that a large U.S. ship is off the coast, they don't receive the message that it's a genuine humanitarian effort."
The isolationist attitudes of the ruling generals will be the reason for the rise in deaths, the world has been ready to help since the cyclone damage was known.
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