Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why Myanmar's junta steals foreign aid


From the junta's perspective, the group that needs to be fed first is the 400,000 strong military, rather than the desperate civilian survivors of the crisis. With their respective family members, the military's associated numbers could be as high as 2 million, according to one Western military source. To the generals, the people now gathering in makeshift camps can be controlled, but only if the military remains united. An army without food or with starving families, especially in an army where most of the soldiers were forcibly recruited, is much more likely to revolt.


Yet the junta continues to hamper aid efforts by denying visas to humanitarian relief specialists, many of whom are now stranded in neighboring Bangkok. The military regime has consistently said it wants the relief supplies, but not the aid workers. It especially does not want aid workers who may control the distribution of relief supplies, precisely because that would keep the military from monopolizing the dispersal of the aid and prevent it from channeling it to its own members.

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