Friday, 23 May 2008

Apprehension of UN chief being misled by junta

By Solomon

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Though a lot is expected from the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon's visit to Burma, local aid workers apprehend the world body chief might be taken for a ride by Burma's military rulers.

Local aid workers said cyclone victims and refugees, flocking on the road waiting for relief materials to arrive, have been driven away as a preparation for the visit of the world body chief.

Mr. Ban Ki-moon arrived in Rangoon on Thursday and left for the cyclone hit-area in the Irrawaddy delta after holding meetings with the Burmese Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

Ban said that his mission to Burma was an attempt at persuading the country's military rulers to allow more relief material and permit workers free access to devastated areas to help cyclone victims.

But local aid workers said they fear the UN Chief might receive the wrong message and get a wrong impression of the scenario in cyclone hit Burma, unless he is able to visit the right places and meet the right people.

"We really hope for some kind of development during his [UN Chief] visit to Burma. But if he only sees what the junta has to show then his mission will be a failure," a local aid worker, who has been distributing relief materials in the Irrawaddy region, said.

The aid worker said, tens of thousands of people in remote areas, where the cyclone hit the hardest, are still not receiving any support and are facing starvation and diseases.

"I have witnessed with my own eyes that there is no support for the survivors in these remote areas," he said. "I saw several children including minors suffering from diarrhea."

The aid worker said the UN chief will only be able to assess the situation if he gets to see such pathetic conditions and not those places where the junta takes him.

"If he [UN Chief] goes only to places where the junta takes him then it will be impossible for him to gauge the actual situation," a volunteer in Rangoon's suburbs said.

As a preparation for the visit of Ban Ki-moon, authorities have begun to drive away refugees, who have flocked along the road from Kun Chan Kone in Rangoon division to Dae Da Ye town in Irrawaddy delta waiting for aid supplies to come.

Eyewitnesses said cyclone victims usually line up along the roads as the little relief that comes to the areas could only be accessed from the road.

Local residents in Laputta town said, refugee camps have been rearranged and several cyclone victims have been driven away from monasteries.

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon in Thursday afternoon headed for the Irrawaddy delta to get a first hand view of the devastation after having met Burmese junta officials in Rangoon.

Ban will be going to Naypyitaw on Friday to meet Burma's military supremo Senior General Than Shwe. The world body chief will also preside over a pledging conference for cyclone victims to be held in Rangoon on Sunday.

1 comment:

Neil said...

I worry he has been misled. Since his visit the junta has asked for more $$$ -- yet that is probably the one thing they don't need -- at least according to a recent discussion with three Burma experts on Australia's Radio National program, Late Night Live, recently -- see the podcast links and highlights here.