Friday, May 9, 2008

Myanmar Junta Seizes Foreign Aid, UN to Halt Shipments

The United Nations World Food Program, one agency that finally was approved to distribute foreign aid in Myanmar, had shipments seized by the Junta today.

"All of the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated," U.N. World Food Program spokesman Risley said.

"For the time being, we have no choice but to end further efforts to bring critical needed food aid into Myanmar at this time," he said.

The Junta told the U.N. that it wants supplies, not people, sent to the country.
Myanmar deported a search and rescue team and reporters who arrived on a May 7 flight from Qatar because it expected the plane to carry only emergency aid, not workers, AFP cited the Foreign Ministry as saying.
Perhaps the Junta is embarrassed that they cannot effectively govern?
Myanmar will distribute international supplies itself and ``is not ready to receive search and rescue teams as well as media teams from foreign countries,'' Agence France-Presse cited the government as saying today.
Yep, I thought so.

Myanmar has been under international sanctions since the military rejected the results of elections in 1990, won by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

The junta plans to press ahead with a referendum tomorrow for a new constitution before elections in 2010. The ballot will be delayed until May 24 in the worst-affected areas.

All the more reason for them not to involve the international community.

Now, normally I completely respect the sovereignty of a nation-state, and I generally do not endorse meddling in their affairs. However, when an illegitimate government cannot provide for it's people, and a humanitarian crises of this proportion emerges, it is no longer meddling, it's a damn tragedy. The world must step in the help the 1.5 million in need of aid before the situation deteriorates, and if the Junta had decency (they wouldn't be a Junta then, would they?) they would suspend the referendum Saturday.

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