Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quarter of aid to Myanmar 'lost'

A quarter of cyclone relief aid in Myanmar is being lost because of the military government's foreign exchange system, a UN official has said.

Dan Baker, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Myanmar, said he was concerned the losses could upset donors who have already shown a reluctance to fund the relief effort after Cyclone Nargis hit at the beginning of May.

"This is a big issue. This is a big concern," Baker said. "The donors aren't going to give us money if they know they will [lose] a percentage of that.

"This is not an issue we can let go by," Baker said on Friday.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, requires foreign aid money to be converted first into foreign exchange certificates at a fixed price and then into the country's national currency, the kyat.


These certificates have been valued at as much as 25 per cent less than the market value of an equivalent number of US dollars.

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate and co-founder of the Nobel Women's Initiative, told Al Jazeera that the complicated currency exchange system shows that Myanmar's military government is still hampering aid efforts.

"It's a very clear example of why we are concerned. We were able to meet Myanmarese along the Thai-Myanmar border and their stories of aid not reaching them are really alarming, to put it mildly.

More at Al Jazeera


May the Karmic wheel turn on the military junta in Myanmar and crush them like the cockroaches they are.

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