No homes in sight for 900,000 Myanmar cyclone survivors

Source: AlertNet
Date: 25 Nov 2009

Written by: A Myanmar expert in Bangkok

BANGKOK – For about 100,000 people in Myanmar who have been living in makeshift shelters since Cyclone Nargis hit 18 months ago, Wednesday’s news of fresh donor money spells light at the end of the tunnel.

But for the remaining 900,000 people whose homes were destroyed or damaged, the prospects are dim.

International donors pledged a fresh $88 million for new houses, schools and employment programmes for the cyclone’s survivors. The money will help fund 17,800 new family homes.

Using a U.N. standard of five to six people per family, it works out that the new houses will accommodate around 100,000 people. But about one million need help with shelter, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this year, the United Nations listed responding to the immediate need for sustainable shelter in Myanmar as one of its priorities for 2009-10. Despite that, shelter remains one of the most under-funded needs in the country.

Part of the reason, aid workers say, is the perception among donors that housing is the responsibility of the government and most donors want to avoid being seen as subsidising Myanmar’s military regime.

“If we have resources, I believe we can do much more,” said Bishow Parajuli, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar. “The fundamental problem for the recovery support in Myanmar is lack of money – for everything.”

Cyclone Nargis swept through Myanmar’s Irrawaddy delta, once dubbed the country’s rice bowl, in May last year, killing 140,000 people, destroying 450,000 houses and leaving 2.4 million destitute.

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South, Southeast Asian MPs joined hands for Burma-starting with re-drafting of a constitution with all stake holders taking part.

by Salai Pi Pi
Sunday, 29 November 2009 00:33

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Parliamentarians from South and Southeast Asia on Friday jointly called on Burma’s military rulers to implement genuine democratic changes, starting with re-drafting of a constitution with all stake holders taking part.

Legislators from India, Nepal and Singapore agreed that changes in Burma is crucial for the region but admits that it requires a coordinated effort by all regional countries including India and China in pushing the Burmese generals to implement change.

The Parliamentarians were meeting in New Delhi’s constitution club under the ‘Consultation meeting on Parliamentarians’ Solidarity for the Struggle of Democracy in Burma’ hosted by Indian Parliamentarians’ Forum for Democracy in Burma (IPFDB) on Friday.

The meeting that drew together Indian MPs across party lines demanded the Burmese junta to release political prisoners including Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and also condemned India for its lack of interest in Burma and its struggle for democracy. Continue reading “South, Southeast Asian MPs joined hands for Burma-starting with re-drafting of a constitution with all stake holders taking part.”

Trespassing of forests in Burma from Thailand

by Usa Pichai
Sunday, 29 November 2009 01:06

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Thai officials have seized illegal logs in the National Park on the Thailand-Burma border, even as local Burmese authorities lodged a protest with Thailand after they found about 2,000 acres of forests in Burma had been trespassed and cleared.

Thai senators, who are members of the military committee of Thailand’s Senate, led by Pol Gen Sonthaya Sangpao, used a helicopter to inspect the contentious National Park on the Thailand–Burma border in Chumporn Province, given the severe deforestation and poaching of wildlife. This has triggered conflict with local politicians.

Local authorities in Chumporn Province bordering Mon State of Burma have decided to step up restriction after it discovered deforestation of large areas of Krom Laung Chumporn National Park, which was being trespassed. A nexus between businessmen and local politicians is suspected.

The national park is in Tasae district of Chumporn Province in southern Thailand. The deforestation and trespassing was by businessmen who want to be into coffee or palm oil plantation by hiring local Thai and Burmese villagers to fell trees. Currently the destroyed area accounts for a total of about 20,000 rais or 8,000 acres. Continue reading “Trespassing of forests in Burma from Thailand”