Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 1 News List

UN special envoy arrives in Myanmar

CUT AID The country's junta has blocked UN food relief to 500,000 people, mostly children and people suffering from AIDS or tuberculosis, as its crackdown continues


UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari arrived in military-ruled Myanmar yesterday and headed straight to the junta's isolated capital for what he said he hoped would be "a very fruitful visit," while the World Food Programme (WFP) reported Myanmar was blocking food relief to 500,000 people.

Deployed by UN chief Ban Ki-moon after this week's bloody crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, Gambari landed in the main city of Yangon and then flew to Naypyidaw, the new administrative capital, UN officials said.

He said earlier he was going "to deliver a message from the secretary-general to the leadership ... and I look forward to a very fruitful visit so that I can report progress on all fronts."

The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes Myanmar, used unusually sharp language this week, expressing its "revulsion" at the crackdown on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Gambari, asked if he expected to meet detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, said: "I expect to meet all the people that I need to meet."

The UN envoy's itinerary has not been released, but on previous visits he has met with regime leader Senior General Than Shwe.

He has also once met with Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We have called on the Burmese to allow him to be able to meet with anyone he wants to meet -- the military leaders, the religious leaders and Aung San Suu Kyi," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has stopped or restricted the delivery of UN food relief to 500,000 people, mostly children and people suffering from AIDS or tuberculosis, as it cracks down on the protests, the WFP said yesterday.

All movements of food from the northern city of Mandalay, where monk-led protests began 11 days ago, have stopped, affecting WFP operations in Shan State and central areas.

"The immediate concern is in Mandalay, which is our logistics hub for delivering food assistance to vulnerable people that we serve in Myanmar," WFP Asia spokesman Paul Risley said.

Food deliveries have also slowed from the port of Sittwe -- where tens of thousands of people have marched against military rule -- to people in north Rhakine State.

WFP nutrition surveys have found child malnutrition rates of up to 70 percent in parts of the country, including impoverished border areas.

Also see stories:

Satellite images trace human rights abuse in Myanmar

Editorial: No concessions this time, Beijing

John Tkacik on Taiwan: Taiwan's status remains `unsettled'

Myanmar poses test to `peaceful rise' of PRC

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