Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Authorities restrict Cyclone Nargis news coverage

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the actions of Burma’s military government in restricting press access to disaster areas and censoring local news coverage of the massive devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis.

--Read More: here

Burma's firewall fighters

When Burmese troops opened fire on unarmed demonstrators here last September, marking the violent culmination of weeks of pro-democracy protests, the Norway-based Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) had 30 undercover reporters on the streets. Despite the military government’s strict coverage bans, the journalists used the Internet to transmit news reports and images to DVB, which disseminated the information globally.

--Read More: here

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called an emergency meeting on Burma's

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called an emergency meeting on Burma's aid crisis, as the junta refused to open up to a full-scale relief effort despite grave fears for two million survivors.

The secretary-general said he would call in representatives of several countries later today to discuss a strategy for escalating the humanitarian response in Burma, with relief groups warning they are running out of time.

--Read More: here

Warning on New Cyclone !!!!!

A tropical depression swirling southwest of Burma’s main city Rangoon could develop into a cyclone within the next 24 hours, US experts say.

“The potential for the development of a significant tropical cyclone within the next 24 hours is upgraded to good with the only limitation being temporary land interaction,” said a report by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, a website used by US government agencies.
The JTWC website said the depression was currently 30 nautical miles west-southwest of Rangoon.

Earlier the United Nations issued a similar warning after the JTWC alert.)

No foreigners, no cameras for Myanmar

By Marwaan Macan-Markar BANGKOK - Images of the dead keep trickling out of Myanmar. The most moving are those of children who died when Cyclone Nargis tore through the populous Irrawaddy Delta.

--Read More: here

News Update -May 13

Read this doc on Scribd: News Update -May 13

EU conclution on Burma

Read this doc on Scribd: EU conclution on Burma

Labbutta Photos

Read this doc on Scribd: Labbutta Photos

US couple helps Myanmar cyclone victims

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — As frustrated foreign aid workers plead to enter Myanmar, one American couple is already ferrying supplies to cyclone victims.
Curt and Cathy Bradner, who have been working on a water treatment project in Myanmar for two years, have secured the military regime's trust — and that has paid off with visas allowing them to come and go as they please

--Read More: here

Go Around the Generals

By Anne Applebaum

They are "cruel, power-hungry and dangerously irrational," in the words of one British journalist. They are " violent and irrational," according to a journalist in neighboring Thailand. Our own State Department leadership has condemned their "xenophobic, ever more irrational policies."

--Read More: here

Burma Emergency Relief Commitee Denmark

Asian nations join in Burma ‘mercy coalition’

By Harvey Morris at the United Nations and John Aglionby in Jakarta
South-east Asian states moved to take the lead in the Burma relief effort on Tuesday after China, the military regime’s closest ally, rebuffed western attempts to raise the plight of 1.5m victims of cyclone Nargis at the United Nations Security Council.

With Burmese restrictions continuing to hamper UN-led aid efforts 12 days after the storm struck, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), of which Burma is a member, offered to head a “mercy coalition” to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis.

--Read More: here

EU top aid man granted Burma visa

EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel is heading for Burma to appeal for relief workers to have "free and unfettered" access to areas hit by the cyclone.
EU ministers backed away from a threat to impose aid, announcing instead that all help would be "entirely neutral, impartial and independent".

--Read More: here

Media Release (Finland)

Myanmar faces second catastrophe without more access for aid – UN

13 May 2008 –Unless more access to Myanmar is granted to allow aid to flow more quickly to victims of this month’s deadly cyclone, a second catastrophe could result, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned today.
Despite some progress, efforts to help the 1.5 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis must be enhanced, a spokesperson for OCHA told reporters in Geneva.

--Read More: here

Louis Michel welcomes improved access for relief agencies but warns that "hundreds of thousands of lives are in the balance in Myanmar"

"Hundreds of thousands of human lives are in the balance and a massive international operation is still needed in the Irrawaddy Delta to save those lives. When disaster strikes on this kind of scale, it becomes a matter of global solidarity. Myanmar should embrace the experience of the international humanitarian community gained in crisis zones around the world. Their work is independent and impartial. That is why I urge the government to let more relief workers in and to let them go to the stricken zone to work alongside the local authorities in assisting the victims. The Commission is ready to give more but the funds won't be much use without professional delivery on the ground."

--Read More: here

Myanmar Government Still Blocking Relief

A collapsed building provides some shelter from the disaster in Thanaden, a village near Yangon.

YANGON, Myanmar — Further deliveries of small-scale aid arrived in Myanmar on Tuesday — a darkly clouded and rainy day in Yangon and in the south — but international aid experts and diplomats here in the main city expressed concern that the government may not be up to delivering it, a task it has claimed almost exclusively as its own.

--Read More: here

Myanmar: Relief is reaching the neglected

Through 21 relief centres, DanChurchAid's local partners are reaching 100.000 people.

DanChurchAid's representative reports 'We brought rice, beans, fish paste, cooking utensils, blankets and plastic sheets with us, and people came rushing up to us. At the beginning everything was chaotic but with the help from some local monks, we managed to distribute the supplies'.

We are reaching the remote villages

DanChurchAid's representative reports that it is still extremely difficult to bring relief out to where the cyclone Nargis caused the worst damages, in the remotest areas of the vast delta.

'DanChurchAid's local partners, on the other hand, are reaching the very poor villages that nobody else can access, namely because we already work very locally'.

The local partners have established 21 centres where they are able to help 100.000 people who have become homeless after the disaster.

--Source: here

'The situation is very tense'

It has been raining now for almost 48 hours. The first really hard rains of the monsoon. The town is ankle-deep in water. People are camping on the pavements with the smallest amounts of plastic for shelter. At the football ground a large camp has been set up, with family-sized tents. The field is gradually becoming inundated with water. People are walking around in the mud in their bare feet.

The Maung family are 13 in one tent with the water gradually seeping inside. They got to Laputta four days after the storm, after walking for a day, from the village of Yway Grop.

--Read More: here

Traffickers target child cyclone survivors

CHILD traffickers are targeting the youngest and most vulnerable survivors of Burma's catastrophic cyclone and two suspects have already been arrested, the United Nations has reported.

The children, among up to two million people struggling to survive without enough clean water, food or shelter in the aftermath of the storm, were approached last week in Rangoon, the UN said yesterday.

"A broker came to a shelter and tried to recruit children,'' said UNICEF's chief child protection officer in Burma, Anne-Claire Dufay.

"There was an intervention. The police intervened and made arrests,'' she said.

The official death toll from Cyclone Nargis has risen to 34,273, with 27,836 people missing, state radio said today.

Ms Dufay said children who had been separated from their parents, and who were possibly orphans, were now facing the threat of violence on top of the everyday struggle to find enough food and water.

"There are concerns for children in camps,'' she said.

Katy Barnett, Save the Children's child protection adviser in Rangoon, said the organisation was aware of the report of the arrests and expected more trafficking problems as the crisis develops.

"It's something which agencies have been expecting. It's an absolute standard thing in the fallout from an emergency like this,'' Ms Barnett said.

"Traffickers can easily get hold of unaccompanied or separated children and tell them they'll lead a better life or be safe.''

Ms Barnett said another unconfirmed report of people looking in camps to recruit girls to work as domestic workers - a typical ruse for traffickers - was being investigated by a church organisation today.

"They are asking families if they would give their girls up and they haven't been stopped yet apparently,'' she said.

Burma made human trafficking illegal in September 2005, but in a report last year the US State Department listed the isolated nation as one of the world's worst offenders, along with North Korea and Laos.

Many of those involved in the trade are women and girls who face sexual exploitation after being smuggled across borders.

--Source: here

Sri Lanka to send 20 tons of relief assistance to Myanmar cyclone victims

Sri Lanka will dispatch 20 tones of relief assistance to cyclone hit Myanmar, the government announced today.

Addressing a press conference, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said Myanmar is a close friend of Sri Lanka and urged the public to come to the aid of the people of Myanmar.

--Read More: here

UN warns another cyclone is forming near Myanmar

The U.N. says another cyclone in forming near Myanmar, which was devastated by a killer storm earlier this month.

U.N. spokeswoman Amanda Pitts couldn't say where the landfall would be or when it would become a full-fledged cyclone.

--Read More: here

Southfield woman makes a safe place for foster children from Myanmar

They're teenage boys, so what do you expect? They wrestle and sometimes they crank their music up too loud, and no, you can't play soccer in the house!

They're teenage boys from halfway around the world, and they've seen and survived things most of us can't even fathom. One of them has a tattoo across his chest from an army that made him a soldier at a point when American kids are still learning to drive.

But boys will be boys, whether it's in Myanmar or Southfield.

"They know I don't like the burping," Denise Burroughs says, and her silver hoop earrings quiver as she laughs.

--Read More: here

US Lawmakers Urge Burma Military to End Aid Restrictions

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have criticized Burma's military government for restricting broad international humanitarian support for cyclone victims. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, discussion of the situation in Burma came as the House prepared to approve a resolution urging Burma's military to lift all restrictions on aid.

--Read More: here

Kick out victims, monks ordered

The monks who spearheaded an uprising last fall against Burma's military rulers are back on the front lines, this time providing food, shelter and spiritual solace to cyclone victims.

But the junta has moved to curb the Buddhist clerics' efforts, even as it fails to deliver adequate aid itself.

Authorities have given some monasteries deadlines to clear out refugees, many of whom have no homes to return to, monks and survivors say.

"There is no aid. We haven't seen anyone from the government," said an abbot of the Kyi Bui Kha monastery sharing almost depleted rice stocks and precious rainwater with some 100 homeless villagers in its compound.

--Read More: here

Aid worker enters 'unrecognizable' Myanmar delta

The first international aid official allowed into the cyclone-devastated Irrawaddy delta by Myanmar's military leaders described towns rendered unrecognizable, thousands of survivors without shelter in heavy rains and local volunteers saving lives.

Soldiers have barred foreign aid workers from reaching cyclone survivors in the areas hardest hit by Cyclone Nargis, but gave access to an International Red Cross representative who returned to Yangon on Tuesday.

--Read More: here