This story is so important I have copied and pasted it here from Bloomberg news, unedited.
Brown Accuses Myanmar of Being `Inhumane' to Cyclone Victims
By Demian McLean and Sarah Jones
May 17 (Bloomberg) -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Myanmar's military regime of ``negligence'' and being ``inhumane'' for its refusal to admit more relief workers and supplies to the cyclone-hit country.
Brown said Cyclone Nargis, which has left as many as 2.5 million victims at risk of disease and hunger, has created an ``intolerable situation'' in the country formerly known as Burma.
Since the storm struck on May 3, the government has barred most foreign relief workers, rejected offers of helicopters and boats and accepted only a trickle of the aid offered by the world. Brown is among the most vocal world leaders criticizing Myanmar's rulers, while France's envoy to the UN said yesterday that the Junta's resistance to delivery of aid was close to criminal negligence that would allow intervention by force.
``It is being made into a man-made catastrophe by the negligence, the neglect, the inhuman treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants to do,'' Brown said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.'s World Service aired today.
China is backing Myanmar as it resists pressure from the U.S. and other nations to accept more international aid, saying other countries must show ``due respect.''
``We are shifting from a situation of non-assistance to people in need to a situation that could lead to a true crime against humanity if we go on like that,'' Ambassador Jean- Maurice Ripert told reporters after a meeting of the UN General Assembly. ``People are dying every day. We want action.''
Ripert said France will press for Security Council action next week.
In a May 15 letter, 43 members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked President George W. Bush to support efforts by France and other nations to seek greater access to the disaster-hit area and to consider a humanitarian intervention, Agence France-Presse reported today.
The U.S. government, which today extended sanctions on Myanmar, isn't endorsing measures beyond diplomatic efforts at persuading the regime to accept more help.
``We're going to keep working the politics of this in the hopes that we can get more aid and, importantly, expertise down to those areas,'' State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in Washington said.
Brown has so far resisted calls from the opposition Conservatives to set a deadline for invoking the UN's ``responsibility to protect'' clause, citing private aid groups who said air-dropping relief would be ineffective and a ``distraction.''
``We will continue to use every international channel to pressure them to do what is the right thing by the people,'' Brown said today. ``The issue is not their survival as a regime, the issue is the survival of people who are desperately in need of help.''
United Nations emergency-relief coordinator John Holmes, who is due to arrive in Myanmar tomorrow to help expedite aid delivery, said this week that between 1.6 million and 2.5 million people have been ``severely affected'' by the cyclone and need help. The death toll from the storm has reached almost 78,000, the Associated Press cited state television as saying. An additional 56,000 people are missing.
Four more U.S. C-130 cargo planes landed in the Myanmar city of Yangon yesterday, and the contents of two of them were handed to charities instead of the regime, according to McCormack. He said it was the first time the U.S. has been able to ensure that aid has gone directly to international humanitarian groups in the country.
At least four more U.S. relief flights are planned for today and tomorrow, McCormack said. About 10 Red Cross planes have arrived in the past week, with supplies distributed by locals.
The military regime today took a group of foreign diplomats on a tour of the cyclone-hit Irrawaddy River delta, AFP said, citing an unidentified diplomat. It's the first organized tour since the cyclone struck, the report said, without elaborating.
The cyclone is the worst natural disaster to hit Southeast Asia since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 220,000 people.
Other countries must show ``due respect'' to Myanmar, said Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, at a briefing yesterday. ``Myanmar is a sovereign country. In the end, rescue and relief work will have to rely on the Myanmar government and people.''
China helped block French and U.S.-led efforts to discuss Myanmar's resistance to granting visas to aid workers last week in the UN Security Council. In 2006 and 2007, China opposed efforts to discuss the Myanmar crackdown on political opponents in the council.
In Myanmar, donated food, water and supplies have been accepted, with the provision that the military distributes them in almost all cases.
``International aid workers need unrestricted access to the disaster area and have to be able to work unhindered,'' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said this week. The first German flight reached Yangon on May 15, carrying six water-purification systems that can supply 40,000 people daily.
About 30 medical workers from Thailand arrived in Myanmar today, along with $230,000 of supplies, AFP reported, citing Prat Boonyawongvirot, permanent secretary at the health ministry. They are part of a group of more than 100 medical staff from Asian nations that the junta has allowed in.
A French naval vessel loaded with 1,500 tons of food, shelter and medicine is set to arrive today off Myanmar's coast and would have small boats and helicopters deliver aid with or without the government's agreement, Ripert said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Demian McLean in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgSarah Jones in London at email@example.com.
Labels: British Prime Minister, earthquake, Gorden Brown, inhuman treatment, Myanmar