Friday, May 23, 2008

Companies warned on disaster donation phishing e-mails

Companies are being warned about a number of phishing scams focusing on donation appeals for the recent major disasters in Burma and China.

"There are a number of requests for companies to donate funds to disaster relief organisations being sent via e-mail," said David Hobson, managing director of security firm GSS.

--Read More: here

Burma: BBC World Service launches emergency broadcasts

By Mark Sweney

BBC World Service: will broadcast information on disease prevention and health in Burma. Photograph: Getty Images

The BBC World Service is to launch a series of Burmese-language emergency broadcasts in the wake of the destruction of cyclone Nargis.

The broadcasts will be funded by a £50,000 donation from Vodafone.

The "lifeline" broadcasts, which will be made by the BBC Burmese Service from June 2, will provide information on disease prevention and health with advice on issues such as sanitation and food supplies.

The £50,000 donation, from the Vodafone Group Foundation charity, will enable a series of emergency broadcasts of six programmes of five minutes duration for six days each week.

The donation has been made to the BBC World Service Trust, the BBC's international development charity, which will develop the broadcasts in partnership with BBC Burmese Service.

"As the tragic news from Burma unfolds it has become apparent that traditional aid is not getting through," said Stephen King, director at BBC World Service Trust.

"The power of the media offers a vital way of getting people access to information to help them survive and start to recover."

The emergency programming will augment existing news and current affairs shows already broadcast in Burma and will reach an estimated seven million listeners.

"The provision of accurate, timely information is a disaster response in its own right and this can help," said Andrew Dunnett, director at Vodafone Group Foundation.

· To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 7239 9857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 7278 2332.

--Source: Guardian

UN Chief Meets Myanmar Junta Leader

UN Chief Meets Myanmar's Key Decision Maker After Touring Cyclone-Hit Delta


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a mission to open Myanmar to international disaster assistance, said the ruling junta agreed Friday to allow "all aid workers" into the country to help cyclone survivors.

Ban's comments came after a crucial two-hour meeting Friday with the junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the country's most powerful figure. Myanmar's junta has until now refused to allow an influx of foreign aid and experts to reach survivors of the May 2-3 Cyclone Nargis.

The United Nations chief did not say whether Than Shwe had acceded to the most urgent request by international aid agencies — to allow their foreign experts into the hardest-hit region, the Irrawaddy delta.

However, when asked if he thought the agreement was a breakthrough, Ban told reporters: "I think so."

A senior U.N. official present at the meeting said Than Shwe also gave the green light for foreigners to work in the hardest-hit region, the Irrawaddy delta, which has been virtually off-limits to them.

Ban "saw no reason why that should not happen, as long as they are genuine humanitarian workers and it was clear as to what they were going to be doing," said the official, who requested anonymity for reasons of protocol. "We've got to turn that into reality now."

Myanmar's military government has until now refused to allow an unimpeded influx of foreign aid and experts to reach survivors of the May 2-3 Cyclone Nargis. While granting an increasing number of visas to foreign staffers, the regime barre2d all but a handful of them from the delta.

Myanmar's military regime has been eager to show it has the relief effort under control despite spurning the help of foreign disaster experts and has trotted out officials to give statistics-laden lectures to make the point.

At least 78,000 people were killed and another 56,000 are missing while some 2.5 million survivors are at risk from disease, starvation and exposure to monsoon rains.

"I had a very good meeting with Senior General Than Shwe and particularly on the aid workers. He has agreed to allow all the aid workers, regardless of nationality" into the country, Ban said.

Although the regime has been granting an increasing number of visas for foreign aid workers to enter the country, all but a handful have been confined to Yangon, the country's largest city.

"I urged him that it would be crucially important for him to allow aid workers as swiftly as possible and all these aid relief items also be delivered to the needy people as soon as possible," Ban said.

Than Shwe also agreed to make Yangon the logistics hub of the aid operation, which Ban called "an important development," Ban said.

Ban arrived at the remote capital of Naypyitaw earlier Friday after a flight from Yangon, 250 miles to the south. He witnessed some of the cyclone's devastation during a carefully choreographed tour Thursday.

It was not known whether Ban discussed the fate of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose latest period of detention expires Monday. A string of U.N. envoys have in the past failed to spring the democracy icon from house arrest, confronting a junta that has proved virtually impervious to outside pressure.

The 76-year-old Than Shwe — reclusive, superstitious and known as "the bulldog" for his stubbornness — had refused to answer Ban's calls from New York or answer two letters sent to him by the secretary-general.

As Ban's visit proceeded, the regime appeared to ease some of its restrictions on foreigners.

France-based Doctors Without Borders said it now had some foreign staffers working in four areas of the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta, which had previously been virtually off limits to non-Myanmar relief workers.

A second French cargo plane loaded with 40 tons of relief supplies was due to land Friday in Yangon, while Canada said it would lend its biggest military aircraft, a C-17 cargo lifter, to deliver U.N. World Food Program helicopters to Myanmar.

The regime had earlier allowed the U.N. agency to bring in 10 helicopters to fly emergency aid to stranded victims.

Ban's firsthand look at the devastation wrought by the storm left the secretary-general shaken Thursday, even though the areas to which he was taken were far from the worst-hit.

"I'm very upset by what I've seen," Ban told reporters after a walk through a makeshift relief camp where 500 people huddled in blue tents at Kyondah village in Dedaye township, about 45 miles southwest of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.

--Read More: AP-ABCNews

UN Chief: Burma to Allow All Aid Workers

a pity, it would had been perfect if the real victims would had been interviewed -- JEG

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Burma's junta has agreed to allow "all aid workers" into the country to help cyclone survivors.

Ban's comments came after a crucial two-hour meeting Friday with the junta leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe.

When asked if he thought the agreement was a breakthrough, Ban told reporters, "I think so."

--Read More: here