May 23, 2008

The Burma Campaign today said it was hopeful but sceptical following reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had secured agreement from Burma’s generals for aid workers to be allowed into the country.

“We’ll believe it when we see the aid workers on the ground in the delta,” said Zoya Phan, International Coordinator of the Burma Campaign UK. “The generals have a long track record of lying to the UN. After the uprising last year they lied about how many they killed, lied about stopping arrests of activists, and lied about holding talks with Aung San Suu Kyi.”

It is still unclear whether the agreement will give aid workers genuine free and unfettered access to the delta region. Early indications are that the regime will still have to authorise where aid workers go and what work they do. This could cause delays and obstructions.

Nor is it clear how aid workers will be able to travel in the delta, significant parts of which are still flooded. Large numbers of helicopters will be needed, and these will have to be provided by foreign countries and they’ll need people to fly them. Practically this is likely to be foreign military personnel. If this is not included in the agreement then aid workers will still not be able to access all areas, even if they have the regimes permission to do so.

“If the regime is genuine then we’ll know within 24 hours, as they’ll take down the army checkpoints which are stopping Burmese and international aid workers getting into the delta,” said Zoya Phan. “If the regime goes back on its word again then there must be no more delay. The USA, UK and France but go into the delta and deliver aid without the regimes permission. Questions must also be asked about why it took Ban Ki-Moon more than two weeks before he bothered to get on a plane and go to Burma to secure this deal. Thousands will have died while he sat behind his desk in New York.”

For more information contact Zoya Phan on 020 7324 4710.


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