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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08RANGOON365 2008-05-13 10:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

BURMA: NO EVIDENCE RELIEF SUPPLIES ARE BEING

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM BM EAID 
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O 131007Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7573
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1179
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RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 1589
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1596
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000365 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, DRL, AND IO
PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM EAID
SUBJECT: BURMA: NO EVIDENCE RELIEF SUPPLIES ARE BEING
DIVERTED

RANGOON 00000365 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: P/E Chief Leslie Hayden for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)



1. (SBU) Summary: Embassy Rangoon has combed all of
Rangoon's markets and found no evidence that donated
humanitarian relief supplies have been diverted and sold.
Likewise, NGOs and UN staff in the Delta told us they have
seen no evidence relief supplies have been diverted from
there either. The UN continues to make monitoring one of its
highest priorities. Pro-democracy activists eager to relate
their accounts of the regime diverting assistance offered us
no specifics of any incidents and acknowledged they were
reporting rumors and exile media reports. Embassy Rangoon
urges caution in responding to the unsubstantiated reporting
in the exile media. End summary.



2. (SBU) To investigate the alarmist reports coming from the
Burmese exiles that international donations of relief
commodities were being diverted and sold in Rangoon markets,
Embassy Rangoon dispatched several of its local staff to
various major Rangoon markets to examine goods for sale and
interview vendors. Although our staff found locally made
blankets, mosquito nets, candles, and flashlights in stock,
we did not find one single example of international relief
commodities being sold. One suspicious package of Thai
biscuits was purchased and brought back to the embassy where
a Thai speaking staff member identified it as a package of
chocolate cookies commonly sold in Thailand with large Thai
writing on the package stating "Buy one get one free."



3. (SBU) Emboffs have also spoken with several NGOs working
in the affected areas, including Adventist Development Relief
Agency, Save the Children, METTA, World Vision, Karen Baptist
Convention, and Karen Development Network. All have heard
the various rumors circulating regarding the diversion of
relief supplies, but none have seen any evidence this is
happening. Likewise, the hundreds of UN local staff working
in the Delta report that assistance is being delivered. They
have seen no evidence of large-scale diversions. The UN
informed us today they have specifically instructed their
staff to monitor assistance deliveries and report any
diversion or mishandling back to UN headquarters.
Communication with the Delta remains difficult, they
emphasized, but proper monitoring of assistance remained a
top priority for the UN.



4. (C) Pol/econ chief also met with political activists
eager to tell her about the rampant diversion of assistance.
When questioned about the details of the reports, the
activists could not give any specifics including places,
dates, or times. When asked the source of their information,
the activists said they were repeating rumors or reports from
exile media, such as DVB and RFA.



5. (C) Comment: It is easy to believe the worst of Burma's
military regime. Embassy Rangoon has no doubt, as in the
case of other natural disasters around the world, some
international assistance may be diverted or not used as it
was intended. However, we have seen no evidence this is
happening here on a scale large enough to be detected. False
rumors are always circulating in Rangoon, throughout the
country, and especially in the exile communities that are cut
off from Burma and not in tune with the situation on the
ground. Many of the activists we met with who were eager to
tell us the rumors they had heard about the military
diverting assistance are sending this information to the
exile media, who they contact on a regular basis. It is not
only the military that has motive to politicize international
assistance.



6. (C) While international humanitarian assistance may not
be being distributed as efficiently and quickly as we wish,
it is reaching those in need (septel). The UN and
international NGOs are slowly convincing the Rangoon and Nay
Pyi Taw bureaucrats to open their doors a little more every
day and accept the assistance. Repeating unfounded rumors
and accusing the GOB of pilfering assistance before there is
a credible basis for doing so is the fastest way to slam this

RANGOON 00000365 002.2 OF 002


door shut. If that happens, the 2 million people who
desperately need this assistance will not get it. Embassy
Rangoon is working closely with the UN and international and
local NGOs to monitor relief supplies as closely as possible.
We have also assigned two officers to coordinate and monitor
relief flights coming into Rangoon airport. If we detect
significant diversions, we will report them. This system may
not be perfect, but it is the best we have under tremendously
difficult circumstances. End comment.
VILLAROSA