Aid to Burma still blocked as condemnation rises

Several international aid shipments still await the junta's OK to help the devastated country. The French ambassador to the UN calls the situation in Burma "unacceptable" and British PM Gordon Brown uses the term "inhuman".


Myanmar's military regime is acting inhumanely by continuing to block foreign aid for cyclone victims and should be held accountable, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in an interview Saturday.

"This is inhuman," he told BBC World Service radio in his strongest comments since the cyclone hit on May 2-3, leaving at least 133,000 people dead or missing. "We have an intolerable situation, created by natural disaster.

"It is being made into a man-made catastrophe by negligence, the neglect and the inhuman treatment of the Burmese people by a regime that is failing to act and to allow the international community to do what it wants to do."

He added: "The responsibility lies with the Burmese regime and they must be held accountable."

Dozens of Asian doctors headed into Myanmar Saturday to treat survivors but with some 2.5 million people in need, aid agencies say more help is required and soon to prevent disease and provide food, water, shelter and medical care.

Brown's comments echo those from senior diplomats across the world but stopped short of those from France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who said Thursday that the situation was approaching "a crime against humanity".

Navy ships from France and the United States, among others, were positioned off the Myanmar coast stocked with food and emergency supplies awaiting entry.

US lawmakers have asked President George W. Bush to consider "humanitarian intervention" to help those in the stricken Irrawaddy Delta region.

The British prime minister said nothing was being ruled out to resolve the situation forced, including forced air-drops, although he accepted that aid agencies believe they could be counter-productive.

Britain is channelling its aid through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Brown's junior Foreign Office minister Mark Malloch-Brown, a former UN deputy secretary-general, said Thursday that "we are way behind the curve compared to any other international disaster in recent memory".

He added: "I cannot recall a relief operation where... the international response has been subjected to such delays."

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