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Ottawa offers DART to Burma while Canadians open wallets

Nfld Sapper

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Ottawa offers DART to Burma while Canadians open wallets
Last Updated: Thursday, May 8, 2008 | 5:48 PM ET
CBC News
Ottawa offered its Disaster Assistance Response Team to Burma late Thursday, as Canadians continued to open up their pocketbooks for victims in the cyclone-ravaged country.

"We are now offering the services of our Disaster Assistance Response Team to help with relief efforts," Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said in a statement.

The relief team consists of about 200 soldiers sent to disasters to provide clean drinking water and medical treatment until long-term aid arrives.

Cyclone Nargis came ashore in Burma early Saturday, killing at least 22,980 people, according to the latest death toll published by state media Thursday.

More than 42,119 people are missing by official counts and the United Nations estimates about one million people were made homeless by the storm.

Canada willing to donate more money
Bernier said he spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon earlier in the day to reconfirm "Canada's support and willingness to help."

A Canadian advance team has already been sent to assess what kind of support can best be delivered to Burma, officials said.

Canada has already pledged $2 million for relief efforts, with $500,000 of that going to the Red Cross, but a government official confirmed Thursday that Canada will provide additional funds once the scale of the disaster is assessed.

Bernier added that he is "heartened" some UN officials and a relief flight have gained access to the country, but urged the reclusive junta to allow "unhindered" access for humanitarian workers so aid can quickly reach victims.

"The window of opportunity to save lives and alleviate suffering is rapidly closing. We cannot afford to wait any longer," Bernier said in the statement.

While relief agencies have some people on the ground in Burma who are helping give out supplies, many are still waiting for entry visas to be allowed into the country.

Relief workers have warned that time is of the essence for bringing in vital supplies — including food, drinking water, plastic sheets, mosquito nets and water-purification tablets — if a worse humanitarian crisis and higher death toll are to be avoided.

Some aid groups question whether it is worthwhile to send the military response team, saying relief organizations are able to do the job cheaper. There are also concerns about whether the ruling junta will even allow the military unit into the country.

"Given the difficulties in getting humanitarian workers into Myanmar, imagine how difficult it will be to convince the authorities to let in a military unit," Kevin McCort, president and CEO of CARE Canada, told CBC News.

Aid will reach the people, agency says
Meanwhile, Canadian relief agencies were trying to reassure people that their donations would reach those in need, despite concerns about the money ending up in the pockets of officials.

"I can tell you that the assistance and the support from the Canadian public will be reaching the people who really need it," said Charlie Musoka of the Canadian Red Cross, adding that the agency has more than 27,000 volunteers in Burma.

In spite of such concerns, Canadians seemed to be donating generously to support relief efforts for the hundreds of thousands of victims.

"I think people are starting to see the images of devastation through the media and we're seeing an outpouring from Canadians," said Tanya Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

The agency said its online donations from individual donors so far total $156,000. The Ontario government has also donated $100,000 to the agency.

World Vision Canada, which has set a fund-raising target of $1 million, is almost at the halfway point, having received around $470,000 in the three days since it launched its appeal.

The organization is providing 10,000 kilograms of rice and 7,000 litres of water, along with other critical supplies, including sarongs, T-shirts, tarpaulins and blankets.

The Salvation Army in Canada has said it will allocate $50,000 from general funds to support the relief effort and is continuing to receive donations from Canadians.

Sue Rook, a spokesperson for Save the Children, said the Humanitarian Coalition has raised $70,000 since Monday afternoon. The Humanitarian Coalition also includes CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada and Oxfam-Québec.

"It's really picking up," said Rook. "The phones are really starting to ring. It's fantastic."
 

Armymedic

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Hope those rucks are comfy, cause it sound like they'll be sitting on them for quite a while.
 

PMedMoe

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St. Micheals Medical Team said:
Hope those rucks are comfy, cause it sound like they'll be sitting on them for quite a while.

I agree with that statement, SMMT.

Junta seizes aid shipments, UN cuts off help
Devastating blow to relief effort as Myanmar gov't stalls vital supplies for millions

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BANGKOK, Thailand — The UN says it is suspending further aid shipments to Myanmar because it is being seized by the ruling military junta.

Paul Risley, a spokesman for the World Food Program, says all the food aid and equipment that the agency has managed to get into the country has been confiscated. He says the shipments included more than 34 tonnes of high-energy biscuits for victims of last weekend’s devastating cyclone.

Risley says it is not clear why the material has been seized. However, he says the WFP “has no choice” but to suspend further aid shipments until the matter is resolved.

More on article link
 

midget-boyd91

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So, what options are open with the Junta not allowing aid in?
Sending the aid anyways?
Sending the aid with armed escort?
Sit on our hands while another 20 000 die?

What exactly can the Junta in Burma do to stop the delivery?
Are they threatening to attack/arrest/shoot down any loads coming in without their authorization?


Midget
 

midget-boyd91

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George Wallace said:
High Altitude Para Drops of Relief Supplies. 

I'm not trying to play devils advocate here, but, after doing a bit of googleing it appears as though the Burmese military has an array of different air-defense weapons. (and if they're not willing to save their own people, it shouldn't be too hard to believe that they'd fire on aid drops)
Like I said, I'm not trying to be an argumentative a$$hole, but this has been bugging the hell out of me since I heard that the Junta was blocking and seizing aid.
It's like the Burmese government knows they can help save the lives of thousands of their own people by letting aid through, but aren't willing to, but just don't care.

Midget
 

NL_engineer

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uncle-midget-boyd said:
So, what options are open with the Junta not allowing aid in?
Sending the aid anyways?
Sending the aid with armed escort?
Sit on our hands while another 20 000 die?

What exactly can the Junta in Burma do to stop the delivery?
Are they threatening to attack/arrest/shoot down any loads coming in without their authorization?


Midget

1. Hard to answer, maybe they don't want international help, as it may appear undermine the leadership of their Government 
2. same thing will happen to it as what happened to the first shipments, or the government may arrest those delivering aid (creating a international standoff)
3. So we start a war?  will that solve anything?
4. looks like thats what we will be doing till the diplomats negotiate an arrangement


 

DirtyDog

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I was on an intial IRU to go but they have since pared down the list who are DAGing as we speak.  I don't see it happening...
 

Kat Stevens

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Just saw on BBC news that relief flights are to resume on Fri/Sat.
 

PMedMoe

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Still pretty limited, though and the local government wants to be in charge of aid distribution which leads me to believe that it still won't get to those who so desperately need it.

UN to resume Burma food flights

The World Food Programme says it will resume aid flights to Burma on Saturday, despite a row over the local authorities impounding deliveries.

The government denied confiscating the food, saying it had taken control of the aid to distribute it itself.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has urged Burma to allow in aid teams "without hindrance" to help the thousands of victims of Cyclone Nargis.

The US says Burma will allow one US aircraft to land with aid on Monday.

More on article link.

 

Kat Stevens

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Limited or not, at least something's being done, sheesh.
 

geo

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Considering the Burmese government is real chummy with the Chinese, I wonder why the UN has not gone thru China to get things done.
 

Nfld Sapper

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Think they just asked China to step up to the plate there Geo
 

Armymedic

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A few months ago the world was condemning the Myanmar, threatening sanctions etc, for beating protesters and other activities.

Now the world is trying to pressure the same government into allowing foreigners into their country to distribute aid.

The government of Myanmar will look weak to those whom are against it. There is no way the rulers will allow any westerners, particularly military troops, into their country.

 

PMedMoe

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Burmese generals turn aid into propaganda exercise

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Burma's military regime has plastered boxes containing international relief supplies with the names of top generals.

State-run television continuously showed images of the country's top generals -- including Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the junta's leader -- handing out boxes at ceremonies.

The junta has so far refused to allow foreign experts to deliver aid to assist their country, ravaged by Cyclone Nardis, saying it will only accept donations and then take responsibility for distribution.

"We have already seen regional commanders putting their names on the side of aid shipments from Asia, saying this was a gift from them and then distributing it in their region," said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK.

"It is not going to areas where it is most in need," he said in London.

More on article link.

I say the DART (and any other aid delivered by military troops) will never be allowed to step foot in the country
 

Gimpy

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Here is an interesting proposal:
Is It Time to Invade Burma?

If the Junta won't allow the needed amount of aid I don't see what other recourse there could be. Should we let hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, die because the government won't allow a steady stream of aid. Interesting proposal nonetheless.
 

1feral1

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Seems its always the west that is expected to give out the aid and relief. One minute we are hated, and then only loved when they need us. After they eagerly take our aid, we ae shunned and condemmed, then just like clockwork we will be hated yet again until the next time.

I would like to see Asian countries doing their bit, and more publicity on this.

 

Blackadder1916

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I would like to see Asian countries doing their bit, and more publicity on this.

Do you mean like this?

Sporadic aid trickles into Burma
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/sporadic-aid-trickles-into-burma_10047373.html
London, May 11 (ANI): Aid for Cyclone Nargis survivors in Myanmar is trickling in sporadically, and the United Nations fears that only a quarter of the survivors have received aid so far.

According to a BBC report, the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) says three plane-loads were flown in on Saturday and appear to have been released for distribution.

Leaders in Myanmar are being criticized for holding a referendum when close to 1.5 million people may have been affected by the disaster.

Voting took place in two-thirds of the country on Saturday, but was postponed for two weeks in the worst-hit areas - including the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon, the main city.

The country’s ruling generals say the vote will pave the way for democratic elections in 2010, while the opposition says it is intended to entrench military rule.

The UN, which has launched a 187 million dollar appeal for aid, says those in the worst-affected areas urgently need food, shelter and medical aid.

Burmese state media, however, claims that only 23,335 people have died, but the UN fears the toll could be about 100,000.

The WFP’s latest deliveries included high-energy biscuits, shelter materials, and communications and office equipment. The agency said it hoped the authorities would soon release Friday’s two deliveries.

Earlier on Saturday, a convoy from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, crossed into Myanmar from Thailand with 22 tons of tents and other humanitarian supplies.

Joe Lowry, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, was quoted by the BBC as saying that he hoped another seven flights would reach Myanmar before Monday.

Since the cyclone struck on 3 May, aid agencies already in the country have started relief efforts with supplies they had available and by buying from local sources. But they have warned of the supplies running out unless more aid is allowed into the country.

Aid has been flown in from China, India, Pakistan and Thailand, and the first US relief flight is expected to arrive on Monday.

But aid agencies claim that the Burmese government does not have the capacity to handle the scale of the relief efforts needed and must allow more foreign aid and disaster experts into the country.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said thousands of people were homeless and are living in pitiable conditions. Hospitals, schools and other large buildings are crammed with the displaced. (ANI)

Surayud to fly to Burma to negotiate
Trip aimed at convincing generals to take aid
http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/11May2008_news00.php
BANGKOK POST AND DPA Sunday May 11, 2008

Privy Councillor and former prime minister Surayud Chulanont and a six-member entourage will reportedly fly to Burma's new capital Naypyidaw today in an effort to convince the ruling junta to accept humanitarian aid for cyclone victims.

Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was reported to have told reporters in Japan that one of the missions of Gen Surayud's delegation was to convince the Burmese government to accept humanitarian aid from other countries and allow international aid workers into the cyclone-ravaged country.

Gen Surayud's entourage includes air force commander-in-chief ACM Chalit Pookpasuk and Raja Prachanukroh Foundation secretary-general Prasong Phithunkijja. The foundation is under His Majesty the King's patronage.

They will also present aid packages provided by the King to the Burmese generals today.

The King yesterday instructed the foundation to send 2,000 bags of utensils and bedding weighing 10 tonnes to Burma.

The 2,000 "subsistence" bags will be flown to Rangoon today at 8.30am on a Thai Air Force C-130 aircraft, foundation officials said.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn also ordered three electricity generators along with a second package of disaster relief aid to be sent to Burma yesterday.

The relief packages include 20 water purifiers and six boxes of water purifying tablets, 500 packs of basic commodities, 120 boxes of chocolate-malt powder, 63 large tents, 34 small tents and 300 pieces of plastic clothes.

The packages, prepared in cooperation between the air force, the Thai Red Cross and the Puen Pung (Pha) Yam Yak Volunteer Foundation, arrived in Rangoon at about 2.30pm yesterday.


Meanwhile, UN refugee agency UNHCR said its first trucks had arrived in Burma without a hitch yesterday, carrying 20 tons of emergency aid for survivors of the cyclone. The trucks, with enough emergency material to provide shelter for up to 10,000 people, crossed over from Thailand at the Friendship Bridge border at Mae Sot. They carried plastic sheets and tents.

"This convoy marks a positive step in an aid effort so far marked by challenges and constraints," said Raymond Hall, the UNHCR's chief representative in Thailand.

"We hope it opens up a possible corridor to allow more international aid to reach the cyclone victims.

"What we are sending in by road is in addition to the supplies we have already procured locally in Yangon and the 100 tons of supplies we started airlifting today from Dubai."

The UNHCR also started airlifting 100 tons of shelter supplies, including 4,500 plastic sheets and 17,000 blankets, from its Dubai stockpile to Rangoon early yesterday.

The first 33 tons left on a World Food Programme aircraft with two other flights scheduled for early next week.

The refugee agency is focusing on providing emergency shelter for the cyclone victims in the Irrawaddy delta and parts of Rangoon, which were among the worst hit.

More than one million people are estimated to have lost their homes after the cyclone hit last week.

The UNHCR has already distributed US$50,000 worth of shelter items bought locally in the aftermath of the storm.

The lorry convoy is expected to take about two days from the border to Rangoon in the south.

The supplies, raided by the UNHCR from its existing stockpiles normally intended for refugee camps scattered along the Thai-Burma border, will be distributed by UNHCR staff.

The UNHCR negotiated a concession for the border posts to stay open at the weekend to allow the convoys through.

The UNHCR launched a $187 million appeal for Burma on Friday which included $6 million to provide 250,000 cyclone victims with shelter.

Foreign aid is beginning to arrive in Burma
http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=14088
Neighbouring countries and the UN have dispatched planes carrying supplies - amid complaints that ruling generals are hampering the foreign aid effort.

The UN has urged the authorities to let foreign aid workers into Burma.

A vast swathe of the southern Irrawaddy delta remains under water. A US envoy in Burma told reporters the death toll could reach 100,000.

Reports from the area - which bore the full force of the cyclone - speak of traumatised survivors emerging from floodwaters littered with bodies.

Survivors are hungry, thirsty and vulnerable to disease - but given the vast area affected, and blocked roads, the challenge for aid workers is enormous, say reports In a statement, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged authorities in Burma - also known as Myanmar - to allow foreign aid workers and supplies into the countrySpeaking to reporters, the UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes said the crisis was a "major catastrophe" and said aid had started to arrive.

He said that 24 countries had pledged assistance so far worth $30m (£15m), and a flash appeal would be launched on Friday once an initial assessment of need was complete. An assessment team was due in Burma on Thursday.

Mr Holmes said that aid agencies had faced difficulties accessing the disaster zone, adding that the rapid issuing of visas and customs clearance would be helpful.

Speaking to reporters, the UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes said the crisis was a "major catastrophe" and said aid had started to arrive.

Airlines step up aid effort to Burma
http://www.bangkokpost.com/Business/10May2008_biz28.php
BOONSONG KOSITCHOTETHANA

Thailand-based airlines with flights to Burma are extending assistance to the cyclone-ravaged country by donating necessities and ferrying aid from Bangkok as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Bangkok Airways is providing necessities such as instant foods, medicines and drinking water, worth a total of US$100,000, to the country devastated by Cyclone Nargis which has killed at least 22,500 people and left tens of thousands missing.

The no-frills carrier Thai AirAsia (TAA) has offered to carry aid donated by member of the Thai public from Bangkok to the former Burmese capital without charges.

Bangkok Airways also set up a donation centre at its headquarters on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in Bangkok to collect aid.

All TAA all offices in Thailand and abroad will offer aid collection services before sending them to Rangoon, to which it operates a daily flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Flag carrier Thai Airways International has been relatively low-key in its CSR exercise, as it only takes donations and aid from its own staff and sends them to Burma on its flights.

The assistance rendered by the carriers shows their humanitarian side and also helps them maintain business relationships with the country where interpersonal ties and connections are key to doing a good business.

Helping the country at this extremely difficult time would be long remembered and would pay dividends in terms of good business relationships, an airline executive said.

The three airlines operate up to five flights a day from Bangkok to Rangoon. Bangkok has long been the gateway for travellers from Europe, North America and others who want to visit the military-ruled state.

TAA chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld said the airline wanted to make sure that donations and articles for shelter reached Burma as quickly as possible.

Donors can contact the airline at tel 0-2515-9888, fax 0-2315-9806 or e-mail helpmyanmar


 

DirtyDog

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PMedMoe said:
I say the DART (and any other aid delivered by military troops) will never be allowed to step foot in the country
I'm on the DART and I really don't expect to go anywhere.  Too bad...
 

Nfld Sapper

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CTV Newsnet appears to report that DART is a go for deployment to Burma. Can't find anything on CTV.CA
 
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