Sunday, September 30, 2007

Myanmar junta allows some food aid to resume

September 30 2007 at 12:48PM
Bangkok - Army-ruled Myanmar will allow some shipments of food aid, halted during a crackdown against anti-government protests, to resume from the northern city of Mandalay, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Sunday.

The UN food agency said transport restrictions that hampered deliveries to 500 000 people may also be lifted in the northwestern port of Sittwe early next week.

"We received word late on Saturday that the military commander in Mandalay District had approved three specific WFP food movements," WFP Asia spokesman Paul Risley said.

"We expect them to leave early next week," he said.

About 570 tons of food is stuck in Mandalay, a key hub for delivering food to 200 000 people in Shan State and thousands of others in central parts of the former Burma.
Another 1 200 tons destined for North Rakhine State is sitting in Sittwe, where security forces have cracked down on protests by tens of thousands of people against the regime.

"I am expecting that restrictions will be lifted for Sittwe on Monday," Chris Kaye, WFP coordinator in Myanmar, said in an email from Yangon.

The Rome-based agency has complained before about the array of permits, checkpoints, local taxes and other restrictions that make it hard to deliver food to those in need.

A third of young children in Myanmar are "chronically" malnourished in the former Burma, one of Asia's poorest nation after 45 years of military rule and economic mismanagement.