More Disaster Is Expected in Burma

In a previous post, I mentioned the visit of the UN Secretary General in Myanmar (Burma), giving hope for the population in urgent need of help (food, medical care…). The junta said they will open their borders to all foreign rescuers.

As usual with this kind of government, nothing is moving except the poor people who are evicted from the tents camps by the police.

Foreign aids are still not accepted and it is almost impossible for the rescuers there to go to the different locations of the disaster.

Here is a show, prepared for the visit of the UN Secretary General: people lined up in front their tents. Do you notice that everything is clean? Looks like a vacation camp…

A closer picture:

How could we believe that these pictures represent the reality?

So now, Myanmar’s junta started evicting destitute families from government-run cyclone relief centers on Friday, apparently fearing the ‘tented villages’ might become permanent.

Singapore said Myanmar’s generals were wary of admitting foreign aid workers because it would show they were not capable of handling the disaster.

“The military leaders surely know that foreign aid will save lives and help to rebuild the devastated areas. But they also fear the political consequence of opening up the disaster zone to international aid teams,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a security conference in Singapore.

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

“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.

The evictions come a day after official media in the former Burma lashed out at offers of foreign aid, criticizing donors’ demands for access to the 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.

Nearly a week after junta leader Than Shwe promised to allow in “all” legitimate foreign aid workers, 45 remaining U.N. visa requests had been approved on Wednesday, but red tape is still hampering access to the delta.

In Geneva, the International labor Organization said Myanmar may try to use forced labor to rebuild the country.

The ILO warned of “the increased risk of incidences of forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and migrant labor as the authorities and individuals come to grips with the sheer size of the tragedy”.

What can you expect from this government who not only refuses rescuers to help people but also insults the foreign aid by calling their help “chocolate bars”.


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