05/19/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Nargis cyclone: human traffickers moving into displaced people camps

The National League for Democracy sets off alarm bells, warning that the military regime is handing out stale rice to cyclone victims. Taking its cue from Beijing Myanmar’s junta declares three days of national mourning and accepts doctors from ASEAN member nations.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Citing “credible sources” the National League for Democracy (NLF), the main opposition party to Myanmar's military junta, said that gangs of human traffickers are moving into camps housing people displaced by cyclone Nargis to recruit child soldiers or abduct girls for sale.

In a recent appeal the NLD also noted that the humanitarian and health emergency in the Irrawaddy Delta region remained critical because of inadequate government aid was.

Activists are complaining that rice handed out to survivors is stale and inedible (see photo), backing their claims with photos, but “we have to cook; we have nothing else,” some displaced people said.

The military junta showed some feeble and not very credible signs of openness today but continues to reject the bulk of the foreign aid.

More than two weeks after the disaster the generals have given the green light to the arrival of medical teams and groups of experts from the states of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said today in Singapore where the regional organisation is meeting. ASEAN will coordinate its efforts with the United Nations.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is due to visit the former Burma this week. His main goal is to speed up the release and distribution of the relief aid for the survivors of the cyclone that caused the death and disappearance of 134,000 people.

In a belated move state TV said that the authorities declared three days of national mourning starting tomorrow. It also announced that the military regime’s strongman Senior General Than Shwe visited the affected area.

It is not clear whether his visit included the delta region, but it seems he was seen in a refugee camp in Yangon.

The official mourning comes however after the regime’s close ally, China, proclaimed three days of national mourning for the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan province.

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