Monday, June 16, 2008

Twilight of the Idle Regime

In the final years of the Ne Win regime, two incidents occurred which I can still remember very distinctly. One was a storm warning that put everyone in the small-town base where we lived on alert. When the storm hit, soldiers were ordered to patrol the town to come to the assistance of any who might need it. This included not only government officials, but also people living in surrounding villages.

--Read More: here

Rumors of New Catastrophe Sweep Rangoon

Now all hope of humanitarian intervention in Burma’s cyclone-devastated regions has vanished, rumors of another imminent natural catastrophe are sweeping Rangoon.

In the weeks following the cyclone, as US, British and French ships loaded with aid stood ready in international waters off Burma, many were certain that the three Western powers would decide to launch unilateral relief operations. Rumors spread widely that help was on its way.

--Read More: here

Student activists helping Nargis victims arrested

New Delhi: The Burmese military junta authorities detained at least three members of 88 Generation Students last Thursday.

Three senior members, one man and three women- Myet Thu, Yin Yin Wai and Tin Tin Cho who were into cyclone relief efforts and aid distribution were arrested while they were sitting in a teashop in Maynigone, Rangoon.

--Read More: here

Burma cyclone impacting world food supply; forced evictions make post-cyclone hell worse

The effects of Cyclone Nargis in early May have not only added new misery for the country’s 50 million people but have negated rice exports needed by neighboring countries and contributing to the global food crisis. The storm hit hardest in Burma’s main rice-growing region in the isolated Irrawaddy Delta, where some 2 million people were driven from their homes and farmland.

--Read More: here

Myanmar Cyclone Survivors Left Without Shelter, Aid Workers Say

More than 75 percent of people needing shelter after Myanmar's cyclone are without tarpaulins for emergency protection six weeks after the storm devastated the southern Irrawaddy River Delta, aid workers said.

``There are still people who need a roof over their head,'' John Sparrow of the International Federation of the Red Cross said yesterday after returning from the delta, according to the United Nations IRIN news service. ``They are resilient, and they are doing the best they can for themselves, but it isn't enough.''

--Read More: here

Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis OCHA Situation Report No. 32


1. Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, making landfall in the Ayeyarwady Division and hitting the former capital, Yangon. 37 townships were significantly affected by the cyclone. Current estimates suggest that 2.4 million people were affected. 1.3 million people are estimated to have been reached so far by International NGOs, the Red Cross and the UN. Official figures put the number of dead or missing at more than 130,000.

2. A Tripartite Core Group (TCG), consisting of high-level representatives of the Government of Myanmar, ASEAN and the UN, was established at a donor conference in Yangon on 25 May to oversee the coordination of relief assistance. The group’s fifth meeting took place in Yangon on 14 June. The ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, visited Yangon on 14 June. The Secretary-General met with TCG partners, PONJA management teams (see below) and Government representatives.

3. A joint relief and early recovery assessment (Post-Nargis Joint Assessment/PONJA) is underway. The assessment involves humanitarian needs (Village Tract Assessment/VTA) and damage components (Damage and Loss Assessment/DaLA). Field surveys involving some 250 assessment personnel are taking place in 30 of the worst-affected townships between 10 and 19 June. As of 16 June 32 VTA teams have covered 84 out of 128 assessment ‘quadrants’ in Bogale, Labutta, Pathein, Pyapon, Wakema and Yangon.

4. New Government guidelines for international organizations providing assistance in cyclone-affected areas were introduced on 10 June. UN agencies and NGOs report difficulties with requests for visas and travel authorizations carried out in accordance with the new guidelines, with many line ministries not provided with instructions to expedite requests. More than 200 visas have been issued to UN staff as of 15 June. Most of the visas issued have been single entry visas for two weeks. Extensions are currently being approved in approximately 7-10 days. Close to 150 international operational UN staff have been to the affected areas as of 15 June, and at least five international UN staff have now been given permission to be based for up to 3 months in the field.


5. The Xinhua news service reports that the Myanmar Engineers' Society (MES) and the Geological Science Society (GSS) are planning to build cyclone shelters in 500 vulnerable villages. The total cost of the project is estimated to be at least US$15 million. Designs are reportedly being developed by MES and sample shelters will initially be constructed in Ayeyarwady division.

6. IFRC reports that the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), working with the IFRC and the ICRC, has reached more than 250,000 beneficiaries with water, food and other relief items as of 9 June. More than 189,950 of these beneficiaries are located in the Ayeyarwady delta. Approximately 10,000 people per day are being reached.


7. The following information is provided by the clusters, which meet regularly to coordinate the humanitarian response of national and international NGOs, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and UN agencies. For more detailed up-to-date information relating to cluster activities please visit the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) website:

Relief Web

Myanmar rice farmers get tillers to replace buffalo, but don't know how to use them

Farmer Zaw Naing was puzzled as he stared at the brand new, unassembled tilling machine — equipment not seen in most of Myanmar's rice belt before the deadly cyclone.

--Read More: here

Editor aiding cyclone victims arrested by Junta

The Burmese military junta continues to harass and detain people and despite odds have gone out of their way to help victims of Cyclone Nargis. In its latest instance of intolerance it arrested a journalist on Friday, who had been helping survivors.

Zaw Thet Htwe, the former editor of a weekly sports journal was arrested in his home town, Minbu, according to a close relative according to a close relative who refused to be quoted by his name.

--Read More: here

Red Cross welcomes special cyclone support

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner today warmly welcomed a special contribution by the Government of South Australia to aid victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar(Burma).

Mr Tickner praised the work of Myanmar Red Cross aid workers and volunteers currently distributing life-saving relief items to affected families including drinking water, clothing, food and emergency shelter.

--Read More: here

NDPCC member inspects rehabilitation tasks in Ngapudaw Township

Yangon, 13 June - Member of the National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee Minister for Mines Brig-Gen Ohn Myint met with commanding officer of local battalion and those in-charge of construction companies, officials and USDA members at the control office of Pyinkhayein village, Ayeyawady Division in Ngapudaw Township on 9 June and gave instructions on rehabilitation tasks of storm-hit villages, progress in repairing schools, arrival of power-tillers and agricultural equipment and health matter.

--Source: here

Dodging the Junta

Though the junta has attempted to commandeer every level of the relief effort--backed by its legions of foot soldiers in the army and police--some local groups have found detours around the blockades, helped by ground-level officials willing to look the other way. On a Wednesday afternoon last month, a group of volunteers visited a makeshift shelter in Shwebaukan, an area in the outlying districts of Rangoon. Inside a government school--the only concrete building in the neighborhood--500 homeless cyclone victims were huddled, "being threatened by the local army guy [who was saying] that they could not stay there for long," according to a Western expatriate who accompanied the group. The military man turned out to be a member of Suan Aa Shin, the local "brute force" contingent. Two days later, the victims were evicted from the school, left to patch together lean-to shacks from the wreckage of ruined huts.

--Read More: here