Koenders prepared to give more aid to Burma

Together with the United States, Minister for Development Cooperation Bert Koenders arranged an informal discussion on Burma last Wednesday during the ministerial meeting of the OECD in Paris. This discussion was also attended by representatives of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

According to Minister Koenders the World Food Programme (WFP) has been given permission to fly in nine helicopters. Contact has now been established between the government of the United States and the Burmese authorities. The UN, the Netherlands and several other countries will each send three representatives (official, non-governmental and political) to a briefing by the Minister of Social Affairs, Health and Planning in Burma. A field visit is also being planned to the site of the disaster. The Netherlands intends to send a representative there as well.

In Paris the ministers expressed their support for Thursday’s meeting between UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Burmese government and welcomed the donor conference being held in Rangoon on Sunday.

‘The humanitarian situation is still disastrous. Only a quarter of the victims are being reached. The response by the military regime is totally inadequate.’

No decision has yet been taken about the level at which the Netherlands will be represented at Sunday’s meeting. That depends on whether aid workers are given greater access to the disaster area and whether the overall effectiveness of the aid effort can be improved. ‘The Netherlands is prepared to set aside more money for emergency aid to Burma, and we have conveyed this to the UN,’ said Koenders.