Rights body must distribute aid to Myanmar

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New York, May 15: Countries delivering relief aid to Myanmar should insist on monitoring the aid distribution mechanism to ensure it reaches the cyclone victims most in need and to prevent the military government from seizing it, Human Rights Watch has said.

Simply dropping aid off at Yangon airport under the control of the abusive and ill-equipped Burmese military will not necessarily help victims of the cyclone. Some supplies have already been diverted, New York-based Human Rights Watch said, adding that humanitarian aid deliveries need to be independently monitored to ensure that assistance is given to those most in need.

''The delivery of relief supplies can't be left entirely in the hands of Burma' s abusive military, or aid simply won't reach those most in need,'' Asia director at Human Rights Watch Brad Adams said yesterday.

''Without independent monitors on the ground, we can't be sure the aid is reaching those most at risk,'' he said.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the comments from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he registered his deep concern, and immense frustration, at the unacceptably slow response to this grave humanitarian crisis. The rights body called on all UN agencies and international agencies to remain resolute in pressing the ruling junta to allow in international aid workers and monitor aid distribution.

''Demanding an effective humanitarian response to the devastation in Myanmar is not about playing politics with aid,'' Mr Adams remarked adding ''A vastly increased humanitarian presence inside Myanmar and free access to those at risk, many of the affected communities will be beyond reach, and more people are going to die.''


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