Friday, May 9, 2008

Burma Desperate

John Holmes, the United Nation's humanitarian chief, said that the situation was "increasingly desperate" and that there was a "real danger that an even worse tragedy may unfold if we cannot get the aid that's desperately needed in quickly".

Even as the first four UN aid flights arrived in Rangoon, the former capital – delivering supplies including high energy biscuits – officials grew increasingly frustrated at the junta’s refusal to grant visas to specialist relief workers.

“Frustrations are growing about access,” Mr Holmes said, adding that there had been little progress in negotiations with the junta.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, made a veiled swipe at the regime for continuing plans to hold a constitutional referendum on Saturday, despite the devastation. (Telegraph)

In the effort to get aid into Burma, Holmes has been playing "good cop" all week (with France serving as the "bad cop"). At a press conference earlier in the week, Holmes made it clear that Friday was his deadline; the time by which he anticipated compliance from the junta with international relief efforts. Reuters reports:

“Several field staff are coming into headquarters and weeping,” a senior
official said. “It’s past time things got moving."

I suspect things are about to get very rough for the junta. The Telegraph reports estimates that as many as 500,000 people may die if aid is not forthcoming quickly.

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