Myanmar - Cyclone Nargis: Aid Still Needed, but Maybe Misused

Updated On: Jul 28, 2008

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes estimates that a further six months of aid is needed by Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

The UN will however end free relief flights from Bangkok to Yangon on 10 August. Aid agencies will then have to charter their own planes or ship their supplies into Yangon.
Estimates of the amount needed differ. However, a joint assessment by the UN and ASEAN estimates that US$1 billion is needed over the next three years.

Concerns have however been raised that International aid money is being lost as a result of the junta’s foreign exchange regulations, according to United Nations officials. The junta insists that dollars be converted first into foreign exchange certificates (FEC) upon entry into the country. The FECs are 20% or more below the prevailling rates when used for goods and services in the country, thereby effectively losing 20% in the process.

The UN described the loss as “a serious problem” that will be raised with the Myanmar leaders, who had promised to address the issue. NGOs like Human Rights Watch have long warned of the misuse of aid if given to Myanmar, and many have refused to give financial assistance directly to the regime.

Source: Straits Times, 26 July 08, Cyclone Survivors need aid for six more months.
Financial Times, 25 July 08, Burma aid lost to regime,

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