UN makes last cyclone aid flight to Myanmar
* Gambari extends visit to country in a bid to meet Suu Kyi
BANGKOK: The last UN aid flight taking supplies to Myanmar’s cyclone-ravaged Irrawaddy Delta took off from its base in Thailand, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement Friday.
Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport has been used as a staging post for aid supplies since May 24, three weeks after Cyclone Nargis hit leaving 138,000 Myanmar people dead or missing and a further 2.4 million in desperate need of aid. The WFP, which is responsible for logistics in humanitarian emergencies, said it has organised 232 relief flights to Myanmar over the last three months.
“For WFP and the wider UN and NGO community, the air hub was critical for the provision of vital relief supplies to the people of Myanmar,” said Tony Banbury, regional director for WFP. The closing of the airbridge at Don Mueang will also signal the closure of a 20,000 square metre warehouse at the site, which was used to store aid cargo.
Nearly 4,000 tonnes of cargo were delivered from the airport to Myanmar including shelter material, medical supplies, mosquito nets and water purification equipment, the agency said. International aid agencies relying on the hub will now have to find alternative methods of delivery to the delta.
The WFP had chartered 10 helicopters to ferry the aid from the airport in Yangon to the delta. Two remain in operation.
UN envoy: UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, hoping to promote democratic reform in Myanmar, will extend his five-day visit until Saturday in an apparent effort to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Suu Kyi failed to appear at a scheduled meeting Wednesday amid speculation that she may be dissatisfied with the United Nations’ hitherto fruitless efforts to affect change in the military-ruled nation.
A government official, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said that Gambari would depart Myanmar on Saturday rather than Friday as originally scheduled. Two Gambari aides were seen by neighbours outside the gate of Suu Kyi’s residence Friday morning, shouting Gambari’s name. They left when nobody came out to meet them.
Gambari and Suu Kyi were to have met Wednesday at a guesthouse but the Nobel Peace Prize laureate did not come. Neither the UN nor the government have said anything about the aborted meeting. “We don’t really know the reason why she did not meet Mr Gambari. But we knew that she was unhappy with the situation,” said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. “She sets a time limit for everything and she may be unhappy with something,” he said, without elaborating. agencies