Myanmar aid barriers hinder cyclone recovery: HRW
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Last Updated: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 21:11
Bangkok: Two years after a devastating cyclone struck Myanmar its military regime is continuing to frustrate efforts to provide humanitarian aid to survivors, a leading rights group said on Thursday.

With elections expected by the end of the year, 22 aid workers remain behind bars while restrictions on travel are further hampering efforts to deliver much-needed assistance, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

"Two years after one of the world's worst natural disasters, local aid workers still feel the brunt of continued repression by the military authorities," said Elaine Pearson, the group's deputy Asia director.

Officials are slow to issue travel permits required to transport aid, while the state is taking a more central role in running humanitarian operations, fanning fears of manipulation, the New York-based group said in a report.

Humanitarian access to the country is "again narrowing ahead of elections," it said.

Restraints on aid delivery and oppressive election regulations targeting opposition political parties show that the junta's mindset "emphasises maintenance of control over the well-being of its citizens," it added.

The military government faced a storm of international criticism over its slow aid response to Cyclone Nargis, which hit the country on May 2-3, 2008, killing more than 138,000 people and severely affecting 2.4 million people.


First Published: Thursday, April 29, 2010, 21:11

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