A monstrous cyclone in Myanmar has been followed by monstrous inhumanity by the country’s military dictatorship. The UN announced this morning that it was suspending food aid after the junta seized humanitarian shipments. This comes after the regime refused to issue visas to international aid workers:
A U.N. official says the World Food Program is suspending cyclone aid to Myanmar because its government seized supplies flown into the country.
He says the WFP has no choice but to suspend the shipments until the matter is resolved.
WFP spokesman Paul Risley said Friday that all “the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated.” The shipment included 38 tons of high-energy biscuits.
Reuters has more:
The two shipments, 38 tonnes of high-energy biscuits, were enough to feed 95,000 people — a tiny fraction of the estimated 1.5 million destitute survivors of Cyclone Nargis, which ripped into the southeast Asian nation six days ago.
“It should be on trucks headed to the victims. You’ve seen the conditions they are in. That food is now sitting on a tarmac doing no good,” Banbury said.
Despite the desperate needs of the survivors, the generals are adamant that only they will distribute the emergency aid that is going in after the worst cyclone to hit Asia since 1991, when 143,000 people were killed in Bangladesh.
The Dallas Morning News editorializes on the man-maded crisis:
The humanitarian crisis is almost certain to become a political crisis. Last September, Myanmar’s generals faced the biggest threat to their rule in 20 years when fuel price increases sparked mass protests that were crushed by soldiers. You can’t eat gas, but if you’re Burmese, you have to eat rice. And the cyclone may have wrecked the country’s rice-growing region during harvest time.
With the region already facing a rice shortage, how will Myanmar’s people feed themselves?
The United States has joined other governments and independent relief agencies from around the world in standing ready to help – but short of an act of war, it cannot intervene. Myanmar’s generals now join the ranks of history’s great tyrants – despots like Stalin, Mao, North Korea’s Kim dynasty – who were willing to allow the masses die of hunger and disease rather than yield the least bit of control.
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