Sunday, May 3, 2009

As Cyclone Season Nears, Few Signs of Shelters

The Irrawaddy News

A plan by Burma’s military government to build disaster shelters in the Irrawaddy delta has apparently made little progress as another cyclone season approaches, leaving many residents wondering why?

Hundreds of shelters would be needed to offer minimum protection from another cyclone of the magnitude of Cyclone Nargis which claimed almost 140,000 lives one year ago.

Burmese children look on as officials gather relief supplies for the village of Twantay,
south of Rangoon. (Photo: AP/Khin Maung Win)

However, the government plan calls for 20 shelters to be constructed.

Local residents say a minimum of one shelter, which can hold about 500 people, should be built for each village tract, which usually has at least three villages.

The government has apparently awarded contracts to numerous companies, but residents say only a few projects are starting while others appear to be in the early planning stages.

Asia World Co. reportedly has started work on a cyclone shelter in Let-Kok-Kone village in Kun Chan Kone Township.

A cyclone shelter is estimated to cost 1,400 million kyat (approximately US $140,000) with companies paid in four installments based upon the finished work.

Local residents in Laputta and Bokalay townships say shelters are urgently needed.

"A year has passed since the cyclone,” said a resident of Laputta Township. “I see no signs of work on a shelter in our village of Chaung Wa, which the Shwe Than Lwin Company is supposed to build. We don't know which direction to run if there is another storm.”

Local residents said that when there were news reports that Cyclone Bijli would pass through Burma, many villagers experienced fear and anxiety.

Dr. Tun Lwin, the director of the government’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH), said in a paper presented at a seminar last month that six cyclones could strike Burma this year.

In the hardest hit area of Cyclone Nargis, in Bokalay Township there are 71 village tracts with 589 villages, and in Laputta Township, there are 50 village tracts with almost 500 villages.

In Laputta Township, a total of 13 cyclone shelters reportedly will be built.

According to reports which could not be verified, the government has assigned the Shwe Than Lwin Company to build two cyclone shelters in Chaung Wa village and Pyin Kha-Yine village; First Myanmar Investment (FMI) Co. to build a shelter in Thin Gan Kone village; Tat Lan Co. to build a shelter in Thet Kae Thaung village; TZTM Co. to build a shelter in Thin Gan Kyi village; Ayar Shwe War Co. to build a shelter in Zin Ywae Gyi village; Moe Kyal Sin Co. to build a shelter in Salu Seik village; Max Myanmar Co. to build a shelter in Pyin Salu village; A-One Co. to build a shelter in Pyin Sa Lu; War War Win to build a shelter in Po Laung; and Myat Noe Thu Co. to build a shelter in Thit Poke village.

In Bokalay Township, the Htoo Trading Co. will build a shelter in Kadon Kani village; and Diamond Mercury Co. will build two shelters in Aya village.

In Pya Pon Township, the Original Co. will build a shelter in Daw Nyein village;Yuzana Co. will build a shelter in Da-Min-Seik village; and Dagon International Co. will build a shelter in Amar village.

In Dedaye Township, Mya Nandar Co. will build a shelter in Thauk-Kya village; Aden Co. will build a shelter in Kyone Da village; and Shwe Taung Co. will build a shelter in Toe Ywa village.

READ MORE---> As Cyclone Season Nears, Few Signs of Shelters...

Survivors remember Cyclone Nargis

From correspondents in THA KYAR HIN O, Burma

(News.Com-Agence France-Presse)- EMOTIONAL survivors gathered in Burma to remember the 138,000 people left dead or missing by Cyclone Nargis, despite authorities largely ignoring the storm's first anniversary.

No official ceremonies were planned and state media made no mention of the deadly storm which lay waste to large swathes of the country on May 2-3 last year, and drew worldwide criticism for Burma's military rulers.

Only the Burma language daily newspaper Myanma (Myanma) Ahlin showed any reference to the 2.4 million people affected by the cyclone, with photographs of the new houses authorities have built for some of the survivors. (???)

Cyclone Nargis hit Burma on May 2 and 3 with wind speeds reaching 240 kilometres an hour and storm surges up to four metres high.

Thousands of homes were swept away, rice fields were flooded with saltwater and schools and hospitals were ravaged in the storm.

A year later aid agencies say half a million people remain without adequate homes, while at least 250,000 people will require food handouts until the end of 2009 at the earliest.

But many survivors were more concerned with the dead as they marked the cyclone's anniversary Sunday, with those who could afford to paying about $A140 dollars in donations for a monk-led ceremony at home.

Win Khaing, 22, from Tha Kyar Hin O, hosted his own family memorial before visiting the unveiling a new cyclone shelter in his village.

"We did a memorial for my mum and two-year-old niece by donating to Buddhist monks this morning. I think they are in peace now,'' he said.

Burma's military government faced international criticism for its immediate response to the storm, accused of stymieing emergency aid and initially refusing to grant access to humanitarian workers and supplies.

In late May UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon brokered a deal that allowed a group of officials from the UN, Burma's government and regional bloc ASEAN to coordinate aid deliveries to the delta.

But long-term shelter, cash to replenish lost assets and further food supplies are all still critically needed, aid workers said, as they sought

READ MORE---> Survivors remember Cyclone Nargis...

Burma's Revolution of the Spirit

A Nation's Non-violent Struggle for Freedom

World Dharma's - Burma Project International

Founded in 1990, the Burma Project is a human rights and media advocacy organization dedicated to increasing global awareness about the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's imprisoned Nobel peace laureate and her country's ongoing struggle for freedom from dictatorship.

Fၤၤၤor Burma Project accomplishments read a Letter of Support by fellow activists.

By Alan Clements - The World of Dharma
Produced by Jeffrey Karl Hellman

Check YouTube for more credits please...

READ MORE---> Burma's Revolution of the Spirit...

Cutting off communications to welcome PM Thein Sein

By Khun Aung Kham

(Shanland] -Local authorities in Nakawngmu village, Pong Pa Khem Sub-Township, Mong Ton Township, Eastern Shan State, have ordered local people to bring down their mobile antennas, citing planned visit by Prime Minister Thein Sein, according to source from the Thai-Burma border.

Thein Sein is currently travelling in Eastern Shan State to canvass support for 2010 elections.
He used to be Commander of Triangle Region Command and Chairman of Shan State East from 1996 – 2001.

A young woman from Nakawngmu said “We were told to bring down our mobile antenna. They would allow us to use after the Prime Minister leaves. But even then, we would have to apply for permission from the Communication office. If we use it without permission, action would be taken on us.

The border has caused consideration difficulties for the local people, especially treaders, she added.

Despite unclear reasons surrounding the Prime Ministers coming visit, it would be the same as the 25 April visit to Mong Yang, according to observer. In the other hand, people in Mong Ton, Nakawngmu and Pongpakhem have already chosen civil servant to work as polling state on officials, said a civil servant.

Some Townships on the Thai-Burma border are able to use Thai-based mobile phone without erecting antennas, not in Pongpakhem.

READ MORE---> Cutting off communications to welcome PM Thein Sein...

A Nation in Need

The Irrawaddy News

A year ago, when deadly Cyclone Nargis slammed into Burma, the country was ill-prepared. The official death toll was at least 140,000, but some observers now say that it was even higher. We may never know the true figure, however, because the reclusive regime that at first refused to allow aid to flow freely into the cyclone-affected Irrawaddy delta has no desire for a full account of the consequences of their incompetence and callousness.

The junta eventually gave a green light to something approaching a full-scale relief effort, but it continued to assert its control in a heavy-handed manner. Military authorities hampered the delivery of aid to the delta, and local relief workers faced harassment and arrest if they failed to play by the regime’s rules. Traumatized villagers whose homes had been destroyed were told to leave temporary shelters and get back to work in their ruined fields. And foreign warships carrying aid materials were forced to withdraw because the repressive rulers in Naypyidaw feared not only an invasion, but also the very real danger that the presence of a force stronger than the Burmese military could inspire a massive uprising.

To add insult to injury, junta-controlled newspapers carried editorials reprimanding the international community for being tightfisted with its aid. They then claimed that Burma did not need help from the rest of the world, because people in the delta could easily survive on fish and frogs from nearby rivers.

The survivors of Cyclone Nargis have indeed been extremely resilient in the face of their tribulations. But it would be unspeakably cruel to use this as an excuse to deny them the assistance they so desperately need. They have lost family members, homes and livelihoods. The recovery process has been achingly slow, with recent data showing that some 500,000 people still have no permanent place to live, 200,000 have no access to fresh water and 350,000 are receiving food aid from the World Food Program.

Infrastructure—everything from schools, monasteries and churches to clinics, bridges and jetties—remains in ruins because there is not enough money to cover rebuilding costs.

The aid money is not forthcoming because of reports of extortion, misappropriation of aid and corruption in the initial stages of the relief effort and because of the regime’s horrific human rights record. The lack of accountability and transparency continues to plague pleas for more aid. According to a new recovery plan, the delta will need US $690 million in aid over the next three years, although aid groups say that it is unlikely they will be able to raise that much money.

One problem, say NGOs working inside Burma, is that some exiled Burmese groups have been lobbying against further funding for the delta. But the exiled groups deny that they are opposed to more aid; what they want, they say, are greater transparency and guarantees of accountability to ensure that aid is being used effectively and appropriately.

Foreign aid workers insist that the regime has not unduly interfered in their mission of helping the people of the delta to rebuild their lives. However, while we can readily acknowledge the value of the contributions that many NGOs inside Burma have made, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the junta remains intent on limiting their influence. International NGOs can and should continue to provide assistance; but they must also seek to expand the country’s exceedingly narrow humanitarian space, rather than merely working within the confines of what the junta considers acceptable.

Ultimately, it will be up to donor countries to decide how much they want to help the people of Burma, and how far they can trust the country’s rulers. We can only urge them to provide as much aid as possible for those in need, while advising an equal abundance of caution in dealing with the regime.

Finally, we should add that while the immediate humanitarian requirements of people in the delta are of the utmost importance, the debate over aid should not obscure the need to address Burma’s longstanding human rights issues and political impasse. After all, the regime’s disastrous response to Cyclone Nargis was not just an unfortunate mishap, but a manifestation of what happens when rulers are allowed to ride roughshod over the lives and rights of citizens for decades.

May 2, 2009

READ MORE---> A Nation in Need...

Battalion set fire to 36 homes in Yebyu Township

HURFOM, Yebyu Township (Rehmonnya): - A fifty strong column of soldiers from LIB No. 107, led by Major Khin Mg Chin entered Paukpinkwin village, Yebyu Township on April 17th and set fire to 36 homes. Villagers believe this act was in retaliation for perceived insurgent group support and follows the recent killings of four village officials on April 2nd and 3rd, victims of a power struggle between the battalion and the armed Mon rebel group, Chan Dein.

A young man from Paukpinkwin who witnessed the events said, “ The soldiers separated into two groups of 25. One group entered the village from the north and the other from the south. Then they started to burn the 36 houses near the Ball Ta Moi Monastery. After that they fired their guns and ordered the people inside to get out their houses. People took anything they could and ran way.”

A local monk commented, “ I think this has happened because of the murders on April 2nd and 3rd and the ongoing power struggle between the army and Chan Dein group. Major Khin Mg Chin ordered the villagers to inform the army if the rebel group were in the village. The burnings are a punishment because they know that there is communication between the villagers and the rebels.”

“The battalion knew that Chan Dein and his members entered our village for the water festival. So they punished people by burning the houses,” said a Paukpinkwin villager.

Of the 36 houses that were burnt, 17 were almost destroyed and the remaining 19 houses were badly damaged. The residents who were left homeless had to live in the Monastery for two days before moving elsewhere.

“ Now, the situation is very bad. All the villagers are terrified and they are afraid to do anything”, said the monk. “ The village quarter which was burnt by the army is near the monastery, so the monks no longer receive food from the people there. Now we have to cook for ourselves.”

On the 2nd and 3rd of April, the headman of the Paukpinkwin Village Peace and Development Council (VPDC) and 3 other members of the council were executed in separate incidents by Battalion No. 107 and the Chan Dein group. All four officials are yet to be replaced and many villagers have left to move to safer locations.

May 2, 2009

READ MORE---> Battalion set fire to 36 homes in Yebyu Township...

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