Save the Children has warned that thousands of children impacted by Cyclone Nargis may starve to death within days:
"We are extremely worried that many children in the affected areas are now suffering from severe acute malnourishment, the most serious level of hunger," said Jasmine Whitbread, who heads the agency's operation in Britain. "When people reach this stage, they can die in a matter of days."International outrage has been growing at the Myanmar Junta's obstructive behavior and unwillingness to allow experts and aid into the devastated region. This has prompted the U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to send U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes to Myanmar this weekend.
"He's going at the request of the secretary-general to find out what's really going on the ground, to get a much better picture of how the response is going and ... to see how much we can help them scale up this response," [Amanda Pitt, a U.N. spokeswoman in Bangkok] said. Details of the visit, she said, were still being worked out.There have been reports of the Junta taking the limited aid that has been allowed in and distributing it to those associated with their regime, stockpiling it in warehouses and/or selling it at inflated prices on the Yangon market.
The U.N. report said all communications equipment used by foreign agencies must be purchased through Myanmar's Ministry of Posts and Communications -- with a maximum of 10 telephones per agency -- for US$1,500 (euro960) each. Importing equipment is not allowed.
Britain's prime minister has directly accused the Junta of preventing aid from reaching victims and said "the military regime cares more about its own survival than it's people's welfare."
"This is inhuman," Gordon Brown stated.
French and U.S. supply ships, including the fully stocked USS Essex, with its scores of helicopters and Marines trained in disaster relief, have been anchored off the Burmese coast awaiting permission to bring their supplies directly to the 2.5 million failing survivors.
Authorization has not been forthcoming.
The U.S. is now handing half their aid over to NGOs (non-governmental operations), such as the UN World Food Program, an unprecedented move in the hopes the NGOs will be able to get the needed supplies past the military junta and to the millions of cyclone victims who are now facing a man-made disaster following nature's devastation.
(NGO's accepting donations for this disaster: Save the Children, World Vision, Red Cross Red Crescent, America Burma Buddhist Assoc., Global Giving, Doctors without Borders, UN World Food Program).
Earlier article on this story here.
LABELS: BURMA, CLIMATE, CYCLONE, ENVIRONMENT, MYANMAR, STORM, WEATHER, WORLD NEWS, UNITED NATIONS