05/17/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR
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The junta continues to spurn the international community

The three-day visit of the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid ends with no practical results. Scant hopes for tomorrow's visit by the UN envoy. A French diplomat charges: the junta is blotting itself with "crimes against humanity".

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Another slap in the face to the international community from the Burmese military junta, which continues to demonstrate complete indifference to the fate of 2.5 million people in need of aid after the cyclone Nargis.  Today the EU commissioner for humanitarian aid,  Louis Michel, concluded his mission to Myanmar with no practical result.  There is little hope for resolving the crisis in the upcoming visit of the UN envoy for humanitarian aid, John Holmes, expected in Yangon tomorrow.

During his three-day visit, Michel asked the regime to grant more visas and to permit the entry of more international experts to respond to the emergency following the cyclone.  Another objective was that of obtaining landing permission for airplanes carrying aid at the airports near the affected areas, to facilitate the distribution of aid.  What the commissioner received was a "no" on all counts. Michel was received only by low level ministers, and spurned by the leaders of the military junta.  In spite of this, the European Union's representative remains optimistic: the generals, he maintains, "were tempted to react positively".  Among the chorus of more or less "soft" declarations on the part of international diplomacy, the French ambassador to the United Nations,  Jean-Maurice Ripert, stood out yesterday evening at the general assembly of the UN by accusing the Burmese regime of committing a "crime against humanity" by not accepting foreign aid.

The official tally rose today to 77,738 dead and 55,917 displaced; but according to British officials, this could already have exceeded 200,000.  Considering that 2.5 million people are struggling to survive, and the military government continues to block aid, allowing the population to die of starvation and disease, the experts warn that the victim count could rise in dramatic fashion.

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