Monday, May 12, 2008

More on Aid to Myanmar

A friend passes along some first-hand accounts of what is going on in Myanmar in terms of getting aid to those in need. I post this (with permission) to encourage your prayers that relief would find its way to those who need it:
As they were sitting in the airport waiting to board their plane they saw the international aid arrive on big planes. Then they saw the army's helicopters arrive, fill up with loot and fly away. They promptly came back after 30 minutes to fill up again. Others confirmed that the aid went to a government warehouse.

On Myanmar TV and maybe on your own TV you have seen the military distributing aid. However, confirmed reports are that when the cameras go off, the military takes the food and medicine back and leaves.

Thus far no one is allowed to go to the delta region. Some sneak in hoping to bring some food, water, and medicine to their family. But most get caught and sent back to Yangon.

The army is just now starting to come and clear the streets of tree debris, electricity poles, and wires. However, they do not have the proper equipment like chainsaws, tractors, trucks, etc. needed for such a task. Instead they, like the people, are using machetes and small saws to hack away at the huge trees. Any help that the army/government gives is only for PR. They work for a while, maybe an hour or two and then sit in the shade for the rest of the day. If cameras come by for the local TV stations they work again until the cameras go off.

Several theories on why the gov't won't let foreign aid in:
  1. They are afraid to loose face/be embarrassed in front of their people. If others come in then they have to admit that they cannot handle the problem.
  2. They hate the UN, US and the EU so much they will not work with them.
  3. Saturday, May 10 the people were supposed to vote to approve a new (and complete sham) constitution. No foreigners should see that the election was not free and fair. Reports are that the ballots were printed with the Yes box checked and the army was standing beside the boxes being intimidating.
  4. Aid workers coming in feels too much like a foreign invasion. Perhaps these workers will have guns and help the people to revolt.
Most foreigners that can get in try to carry money and supplies. Rumor is that they are being stopped, searched, and “extra” money and supplies are confiscated.