UN suspends aid shipments to Burma

The UN today said it would suspend aid shipments to Burma after discovering all supplies sent in so far have been seized by the ruling military junta.

An official said the World Food Programme had no choice but to stop sending supplies until the matter was resolved.

WFP spokesman Paul Risley said that all "the food aid and equipment that we managed to get in has been confiscated".

The shipment included 38 tons of high-energy biscuits.

He said it was not clear why the material was seized.

Mr Risley said: "It is being held by the government. We are waiting resolution of this matter."

Meanwhile, more than a million people made homeless in last Saturday's cyclone waited for food, shelter and medicine. Many crammed into Buddhist monasteries or just camped out in the open.

Entire villages were submerged in the Irrawaddy delta, with bodies floating in salty water and children ripped from their parents' arms. At least 62,000 people are dead or missing, state media reported, and aid groups warned that thousands of children may have been orphaned and the area is on the verge of a medical disaster.

The WFP had sent some aid on a scheduled Thai Airways cargo flight yesterday which went through without problems.

But a bureaucratic mix-up led to the seizure when two flights landed today, Mr Risley said.

"For the time being, we have no choice but to end further efforts to bring critical needed food aid into (Burma) at this time," Mr Risley said.

The secretive regime has also refused to grant visas to foreign aid workers who could assess the extent of the disaster and manage the logistics.

"The frustration caused by what appears to be a paperwork delay is unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts," said Mr Risley. "It's astonishing."

He said the WFP submitted 10 visa applications around the world, including six in Bangkok, but none has been approved.

"We strongly urge the government to process these visa applications as quickly as possible, including work over the weekend," he said.

The junta said it was grateful to the international community for its assistance - which has included 11 chartered planes loaded with aid supplies - but the best way to help was just to send in material rather than personnel.

One relief flight was sent back after landing in Rangoon yesterday because it carried a search-and-rescue team and media who did not have permission to enter the country.

More on this topic

Suu Kyi appeals for aid to Burmese Cyclone victimsSuu Kyi appeals for aid to Burmese Cyclone victims

Burma cyclone death toll rises to 84,500

Minister admits concerns over aid supplies to Burma

UN aid reaches cyclone-hit delta in Burma

More in this Section

Justice Ruth Ginsburg completes treatment for tumour on pancreasJustice Ruth Ginsburg completes treatment for tumour on pancreas

Campaigners criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘inflammatory’ message to migrantsCampaigners criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘inflammatory’ message to migrants

Brazil’s leader suggests he will send army to tackle Amazon wildfiresBrazil’s leader suggests he will send army to tackle Amazon wildfires

Life without parole for man who killed Spanish golfer on US courseLife without parole for man who killed Spanish golfer on US course


Lifestyle

These green pancakes are topped with avocado, tomato and cottage cheese.How to make Jamie Oliver’s super spinach pancakes

Who else can pull off a look described as a ‘hip-hop Michelin woman’?As her new EP drops, this is why there will never be a style icon quite like Missy Elliott

The classic white-tipped look is once again in favour, and celebs are loving it.The French manicure is back – 5 modern ways to try the trend

The A-Listers hiding in plain sight: As Rihanna is spotted at the cricket, who are the celebs who have been living under our noses in Ireland? Ed Power reports.Celebs in plain sight: The A-Listers living under our noses in Ireland

More From The Irish Examiner