Myanmar soldiers unload bags of supplies onto a truck

Corruption Hampers Cyclone Aid Efforts

May 14, 2008 08:00 AM
by Anne Szustek
The ruling junta of Myanmar is seizing aid supplies from local charities, keeping the best of the rations and selling the rest.

30-Second Summary

It has been almost two weeks since Cyclone Nargis first hit Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta, and still foreign aid groups are being denied access to the country’s hardest-hit areas.

Representatives of the country’s military are commandeering staple food items and emergency blankets from privately run aid organizations, leaving the aid groups with little choice but to hide relief supplies to ensure they get to those who need them.

A businessman from Yangon, the country’s largest city and former capital, told U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph, “We know that for every 10 sacks of rice we give them, only four will reach the people. The other six will end up being sold by that official on a market in some local town. Rice prices are very high right now and that official will then make a good profit.”

To make matters worse, the aid that is filtering through to the victims is often spoiled, reports the Associated Press.

“There is obviously still a lot of frustration that this aid effort hasn’t picked up pace,” said Richard Horsey, the United Nations coordinator of humanitarian efforts in Bangkok.

The UN has confirmed early U.S. estimates that around 100,000 people were killed by Cyclone Nargis, with another approximately 200,000 reported missing. The junta’s official death toll stands at some 62,000.

Headline Link: ‘Burma Cyclone: Burmese Officials Selling Emergency Aid Supplies in Local Markets’

Video: ‘No Relief for Cyclone Victims’

Background: Cyclone Nargis’ aftermath


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