May 1, 2009

On the first anniversary of Cyclone Nargis striking Burma, the Burma Campaign UK is calling on the international community to do more to challenge restrictions on aid delivery in the country, as well as providing more humanitarian assistance. The dictatorship has been gradually reintroducing restrictions on aid workers in the Delta, and has made no significant moves to drop restrictions in other parts of the country.

More than 140,000 were killed by Cyclone Nargis when it struck the Irrawaddy Delta last year.

“Instead of the partial opening of space for humanitarian assistance in the Delta being extended to other parts of the country, restrictions in the Delta are growing”, said Anna Roberts, Director of Burma Campaign UK. “The international community must do more to challenge the restrictions on aid delivery, and not just in the Delta. Blocking aid costs lives every day. It cannot be allowed to continue.”

Millions of people in Burma, especially in ethnic areas, are living in extreme poverty, but the regime does not allow the international community access to help these people.

The people of the Delta, especially in more remote areas, still need assistance to rebuild their communities. The Burma Campaign UK welcomes the leading roles that the British government has played in providing assistance in the Delta.

The dictatorship should also be held accountable for its actions in the Delta, first not warning people that the Cyclone was coming, and then blocking aid in the crucial first weeks after the Cyclone hit. The Burma Campaign UK has recorded first hand testimony from people in the Delta describing how the dictatorship stole aid intended for Cyclone victims, recruited child soldiers, forced people to vote yes in a referendum on the new constitution in order to receive aid, and were fined for trying to deliver aid. There have also been reports of forced labour and land confiscation since the Cyclone struck, as well as people being imprisoned for delivering aid.

“It is important to remember the kind of people we are dealing with”, said Anna Roberts. “The dictatorship only cares about its own survival. They will need to be placed under significant pressure before they allow proper humanitarian access. The United Nations has tried gentle persuasion for 20 years, and has failed.”

For more information contact Anna Roberts on 020 7324 4710

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