Friday, May 9, 2008

Myanmar Junta Blocking Aid to Cyclone Victims

After Dispute With Junta, U.N. Resuming Myanmar Aid
- New York Times

The United Nations suspended relief supplies to Myanmar on Friday after the military government seized the food and equipment it had already sent into the country but said it would resume the aid flights on Saturday.

The United Nations World Food Program said it would send in two relief flights as planned on Saturday, while negotiations continued with the government about the distribution of supplies.

Earlier, in a statement, Myanmar's military junta said it was willing to receive disaster relief from the outside world but would not welcome outside relief workers, a key demand of aid agencies who want to coordinate and control their own aid.

Nearly one week after a devastating cyclone, supplies into the country were still being delayed and aid experts were being turned back as they arrived at the airport. Two of four United Nations experts who flew in on Friday were turned back at the airport for unknown reasons, said John Holmes, a relief coordinator for the United Nations.

In the government statement, the military junta said it would distribute international relief supplies itself.

Paul Risley, a spokesman for the United Nations World Food Program, said, "all the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated."

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