Friday, 16 May 2008

Mockery of human tragedy; relief supplies on sale

Mizzima News

14 May 2008 - The Burmese military junta is instrumental in making a mockery of human tragedy. Over 100,000 lives were lost and two million rendered homeless by cyclone Nargis and yet relief material donated by the international community and aid agencies have found their way into the markets. Such is the scale of corruption in Burma.

Local residents said they saw foreign made biscuits, dried meat, instant noodles, tarpaulins and plastic sheets on sale in Nyaunpinlay market, Mingalar market, Bogale market, Theingyi market and other markets in Rangoon.

"I bought biscuits with labels like CNE (green), MCS, PMUS, DIS, IT --- brands made in Thailand, Japan and China, and ready to eat meat, instant noodles that I have never found in these markets before," a man who bought the stuff from Bogale market told Mizzima.

Another local resident said that the biscuits put on sale in the market are the same as the ones distributed to cyclone victims on May 11 in South Dagon Township by the local authority.

The Mizzima correspondent in Rangoon said tissue packets with Red Cross labels were seen in a store in Mingalar market.

Another local resident in Rangoon said he saw army trucks from the Navy Supplies Depot, in Mingaladon, Syriam and Labutta bringing the relief materials to the markets.

"I found the same biscuits in the Nyaungpinlay market and the shopkeeper was shouting -- 'foreign biscuits available'," he said.

Similarly, he said he saw foodstuff, part of the relief supplies, at the residence of his friend who works at the airport.

"When I visited my friend's house on Tuesday, I saw a dozen tins of sardines and about five packets of biscuits in his home. When I asked him, he said he got it from his work place."

An aid worker expressing concern told Mizzima that relief supplies donated for the cyclone victims are on sale in Rangoon markets.

"The aid workers have got photographic evidence of these supplies being put on sale in the markets. The rice sacks and condensed milk tins with 'World Food Program' (WFP) logos and Japanese flags are on sale," said the aid worker.

The aid worker added that mosquito nets with (UNH) logos were also spotted at the corner of Bar Street, in Rangoon. Instant noodles are being sold at Kyat 600 per sachet as the price tag in Nyaungpinlay market. Moreover US made makeshift tents designed for patients are available at Kyat. 87,000 per unit in Mingaladon market, the aid worker rued.

But, Paul Risley of the World Food Program said the organization has not received any reports regarding the aid materials being sold in the markets instead of being distributed among cyclone victims.

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