Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, May 09, 2008

Burmese government still blocking aid, relief workers

United Nations food shipments that could have fed 95,000 survivors of Cyclone Nargis have been seized at Rangoon airport by Burma’s military junta, Australia’s Sunday Times reported Friday.

The seizure sparked outrage among U.N. officials. “We’re going to have to shut down our very small airlift operation until we get guarantees from the authorities,” a furious World Food Program regional director Tony Branbury told CNN, adding, “It should be on trucks headed to the victims…That food is now sitting on a tarmac doing no good.”

Burma’s military government has insisted on being the sole distributor of aid to the 1.5 million victims of the storm, saying that it is “not in a position to receive rescue and information teams from foreign countries at the moment.”

With Burma’s embassy in Thailand taking a local holiday Friday, Western aid officials have received word that their visa applications cannot be processed until next Monday or Tuesday at the earliest.

The U.S. said Friday it would seek Burma’s permission to begin helicopter food drops.

Burma has put the number of people dead or missing from the cyclone at 62,000, but other estimates have put the death toll alone at 100,000.

Burmese citizens vote Friday on a referendum for a new, junta-drafted constitution.

For the full article, click here.


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