Wednesday, June 04, 2008

U.S. Military Forced to Abort Burma Aid Mission -

U.S. Military Forced to Abort Burma Aid Mission -
"BANGKOK, June 4 -- Cyclone survivors in Burma's devastated Irrawaddy Delta could require food aid for as long as a year, U.N. officials said Wednesday, even as the U.S. military aborted a mission to use helicopters and small boats to deliver aid because Burma's government ignored repeated offers of assistance.

The United States had planned to use the helicopters and small boats aboard the USS Essex to deliver much-needed aid to cyclone survivors, but Burma's ruling military junta rebuffed repeated offers to help with the disaster relief effort, despite the severity of the damage to the region's rice production.

International aid agencies are still struggling to increase their food delivery capacity in the delta, a complex network of rivers and islands, many of which are only accessible by small boats. Doctors Without Borders (Médicins San Frontièrs), the aid agency, said the flow of supplies into the stricken region is still inadequate, and survivors in many remote villages have yet to receive any outside assistance.
A large number of victims are located in areas inaccessible by road. Those helicopters would have been a boon to the relief efforts. Unfortunately the government of Myanmar has refused not only US military helicopters, but those of its surrounding neighbors.

It isn't anti-American attitudes here; the Myanmar government has been highly suspicious of outsiders for years, and they show no signs of easing their xenophobia.

Are we seeing a slow genocide in progress? Or is this a simple case of neglect and incompetence? Either way, what little aid is getting into Myanmar is inadequate. How long will it be before the nations who have been waiting offshore simply start flying the helicopters and getting the aid into the areas which need it the most? What about the UN? They reserve the right to act when a government can't or won't do what is required. What is holding them back?

No comments: