Keep Myanmar aid process apolitical: India

May 25th, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) India Sunday urged the international community to keep the aid process to Myanmar “apolitical”, even as it promised to rush more relief supplies to Yangon next week for the victims of the devastating cyclone. India’s position was made clear by Minister of Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh, who led a delegation to the International Pledging Conference in Myanmar’s capital to provide help to the thousands of victims of the devastating Cyclone Nargis earlier this month that has recorded a toll of over 133,000 persons.

The conference, co-chaired by United Nations humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes and Association for South East Asian Nations (Asean) Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan, was attended by 45 countries and several international agencies.

The Indian minister met Myanmar Prime Minister U Thein Stein, who expressed gratitude for India’s “prompt and generous assistance and our commitment to assist in their rehabilitation efforts”, according to an Indian government statement.

Ramesh also had a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Myanmar to spearhead aid efforts.

In his statement before the conference, Ramesh asked the international community to provide assistance to Myanmar “expeditiously in the true humanitarian spirit and keep the process apolitical”.

He expressed India’s commitment to help in the reconstruction process too.

India’s statement should be read in the context of the controversy that has broken out after Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawady delta, when the military junta barred international aid agencies and foreign countries from directly distributing relief materials or sending in foreign rescue workers.

Ramesh noted that with close historic ties and an expanding economic relationship, “it was natural that there has been a spontaneous outpouring of sympathy in India for the people of Myanmar”.

The government statement said he expressed satisfaction that “when the international community was still in the process of getting its act together, India had already sent to Myanmar the much-needed relief and medical supplies”.

India has already sent two ships and six aircraft carrying food, tents and medical supplies. Another Indian aircraft is expected to reach Myanmar next week with more relief material.

Two Indian medical teams, comprising 47 personnel, are currently in Pyapon and Bogale towns in the affected areas.

“They have been treating an average of more than 1,500 patients a day and their work has been greatly appreciated,” said the statement.

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