Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

UN warns of 'second catastrophe' in Myanmar

Myanmar rescue workers along with Red Cross staff transfer an injured woman after evacuating her from the cyclone-hit area in Hlaing Thayar township in the outskirts of Yangon on May 10, 2008. State media in Myanmar reported that more than 23,000 people were killed when Cyclone Nargis ripped its deadly path through the country's southwest last weekend, while foreign officials estimate the death toll at closer to 100,000. Scot Marciel, US envoy to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, backed the regional bloc's efforts to convince military-ruled Myanmar to open its doors to humanitarian aid after the devastating cyclone. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Yangon (AFP) May 14, 2008
The United Nations warned Tuesday that Myanmar faced a "second catastrophe" after its devastating cyclone, unless the junta immediately allows massive air and sea deliveries of aid.

But Myanmar's military rulers again rejected growing international pressure to open the door to a foreign-run relief effort, insisting against all the evidence that they could handle the emergency alone.

The United Nations aired its "increasing frustration" at not being able to bring more help to 1.5 million of the neediest survivors, and said the crisis in the country's remote, flooded south posed an "enormous logistic challenge."

It requires "at least an air or sea corridor to channel aid in large quantities as quickly as possible," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman in Geneva for the UN's emergency relief arm.

"We fear a second catastrophe."

But the junta said Tuesday that the needs of the people after the storm, which has left around 62,000 dead or missing since ripping through the southern Irrawaddy delta on May 3, "have been fulfilled to an extent."

"The nation does not need skilled relief workers yet," Vice Admiral Soe Thein said in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a mouthpiece for the military, which has ruled the nation with an iron grip for nearly half a century.

Although aid flights are increasing, there are serious bottlenecks in getting supplies to the delta.

Many survivors said they had still not received help from the government 10 days after the disaster, and could not understand why their leaders have snubbed offers of help that have poured in from around the world.

Aid agencies warn that as every day passes without sufficient food, water and shelter, more are at risk of joining the staggering death toll, estimated by the UN at 100,000.

The World Health Organisation said it had dispatched supplies of body bags, as experts warned that corpses were going uncollected and that the putrefying remains pose a major health risk.

Heavy rains overnight deepened the misery for many, seeping through the flimsy plastic sheeting of makeshift shelters of tens of thousands of people whose homes were sunk or blown away in the storm.

"These new rains are bringing us more misery," said Taye Win, a survivor sheltering at a monastery outside the country's main city Yangon. "I don't know how long we can withstand this."

The UN said child traffickers are targeting the youngest and most vulnerable survivors of the catastrophe, and that two suspects have already been arrested after trying to recruit children at a relief camp.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took aim at the regime, using unusually strong language to insist that outside experts be allowed in immediately to help direct the fumbling relief effort.

"We are at a critical point. Unless more aid gets into the country very quickly, we face an outbreak of infectious diseases that could dwarf today's current crisis," he said.

"I therefore call in the most strenuous terms on the government of Myanmar to put its people's lives first. It must do all it can to prevent this disaster from becoming even more serious."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also blasted the junta, saying its "callous disregard" for its people was hampering the supply of aid.

European Union development ministers held emergency talks Tuesday to seek ways to convince the junta to open its doors.

After the meeting, they urged "the authorities in Myanmar to offer free and unfettered access to international humanitarian experts, including the expeditious delivery of visa and travel permits."

The bloc's aid chief Louis Michel said the Myanmar regime has granted him a visa and that he would leave later Tuesday for the country, where he is expected to stress that no political strings are attached to foreign aid.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States had no plans for a forced intervention in Myanmar to provide aid to cyclone victims.

"We are doing everything that we can because this is a humanitarian, not a political issue. We want to make very clear that our only desire is to help the people of Burma," she said.

Myanmar's generals remain deeply suspicious of the outside world and fearful of any foreign influence which could weaken their control on every aspect of life in this poor and isolated nation, formerly known as Burma.


Email This Article
Comment On This Article

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Bacteria epidemic at Madrid hospital claimed 18 lives: report
Madrid (AFP) May 11, 2008
At least 18 people died in a bacteria epidemic that infected more than 250 patients over a period of 20 months at one of Madrid's main hospitals, a report said Sunday.

  • US has no plans for forced intervention in Myanmar
  • China says foreign aid offers 'welcome'
  • Low technology is the only hope in Myanmar, China disasters
  • UN says Myanmar forcing villagers to leave

  • NCAR Installs Supercomputer For Critical Research On Climate Change And Severe Weather
  • McCain splits with Bush on climate change
  • Key Climate Sensor Restored To NPOESS
  • Cleaner air to worsen droughts in Amazon: study

  • USGS Awards Satellite Imagery Contracts: Enhancing Access To Users
  • Bluesky Launches 3D Computer Models Of Britain's Cities
  • Cartosat 2a Puts The World In High Resolution For Indian Government
  • NASA Nasa Satellite Captures Image Of Cyclone Nargis Flooding In Myanmar

  • Pacific Natural Energy Creates a Step Up for the Little Guy: The BioBox Mini
  • Blue Sun Biodiesel Continues To Open Retail Fueling Locations
  • The Premiere Ocean Renewables Event - EnergyOcean 2008
  • Myanmar biofuel drive deepens food shortage

  • UN warns of 'second catastrophe' in Myanmar
  • Bacteria epidemic at Madrid hospital claimed 18 lives: report
  • China virus death toll hits 30 as number of infections soars
  • China urges authorities to step up education of deadly disease

  • Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed
  • Rainfall, rivers predict fish biodiversity
  • Platypus Genome Sequenced, Unlocking Secrets Of Evolution
  • What's Bugging Locusts. It Could Be They're Hungry - For Each Other

  • Cleaning Up The Oceans With Wakame Waste
  • Chinese leader seeks Japanese help on environment
  • Toxic ponds kill ducks in Canada
  • Researchers Look To Make Environmentally Friendly Plastics

  • Justice In The Brain: Equity And Efficiency Are Encoded Differently
  • Nearly One-Third Of US Parents Don't Know What To Expect Of Infants
  • Walker's World: Bye-bye boomers
  • United We Stand: When Cooperation Butts Heads With Competition

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement