At UN, Myanmar
Pledging Under U.S. Shadow, France Fades, Oil Companies Give A Little
Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
9 -- In the debate about aid to Myanmar, six days after Cyclone Nargis
United States was a major presence, while France seemingly dropped out
sight. After loudly calling for
a humanitarian intervention under the
Responsibility to Protect doctrine, at a pledging session Friday,
offered what appeared to be less than $1 million, compared for example
to $10 million from Japan.
came in at $3.25 million, and on his way out of the session, Inner City
asked U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, hey, why only a third of
It's just a beginning, Amb. Khalilzad said. He referred to Myanmar's
agreement to allow in a C-130 Hercules plane full of aid on Monday.
Press asked for the U.S. view on Myanmar's seizure of two UN World Food
planes on the tarmac in Yangon. I have nothing on that, Amb. Khalilzad
In fact, the head of the World Food
Program, American Josette Sheeran
who used to be with the State Department, has
been during the cyclone crisis not at WFP's Rome headquarters, but in
United States. Given the tensions between the Bush Administration --
Bush family -- and the Myanmar military government, one wonders if
American, in America, heading the WFP at this time is helpful. Then
other candidates for the top WFP post were also Westerners. One of
Banbury, also American, was quoted seemingly breaking the embargo on
the release of the UN's
"flash appeal," hours before UN humanitarian coordinator John
unveiled the written plan Friday afternoon at the UN.
After Holmes spoke, countries got in
line to speak and make their pledges. It appeared that Holmes' office,
had ordered the speakers by size of pledge. Japan went first, with its
million. This made for mutterings about cheapness, as some other
ponied up $50,000 or less. Turkey said it would give $1 million, that
"already in the Mission's bank account" and would be given on Monday,
half of it specifically directed to UNICEF. The UN Development Program
the subject of similar praise, but appears in the written flash appeal,
over $3.5 million. The Food and Agriculture Organization, which
president Wade is now threatening to sue for diverting money from
Africa, is in
line for $10 million.
Two companies pledge to Myanmar - is
blood money implied? See below, Total's is more than France
In the hall outside the pledging
session, a representative of the Sri Lankan delegation said that
$25,000, and was considering sending medical supplies, "bilaterally."
Inner City Press asked Holmes about this, why most of OCHA's
concerns Western donors. While Holmes said OCHA has great contacts in
seems significant that many Asian countries not only don't give through
they don't even tell the UN what they are giving.
Indonesia's Ambassador Marty
Natalegawa stopped to tell Inner City Press, in light of the Asian
or revealed on Friday, that the Western media should not "caricature"
the situation, as if only Western countries care about Myanmar. Simultaneously, actress Anjelica Huston was
speaking to some reporters amid poster board photos of monks and maps
"Burma." Inner City Press ran
and asked her, do you support France's invocation of the Responsibility
Protect, to intervene in Myanmar even without consent?
Ms. Huston nodded and said,
"By whatever means, yes."
Inner City Press asked, Including
the use of force?
No, Ms. Huston said. And therein
lies the rub. A TV reporter asked her, "Has it been frustrating for you
the past two days?" And with that we'll fade out.
Follow the money
footnote: While the
UN on Friday sought pledges of aid to post-cyclone Myanmar,
money in Myanmar moved in a different world. Unocal, now Chevron,
has been sued
for using slave labor in the country. The France-based
Total has faced similar
charges. Both companies have now announced $2 million contributions
-- that the
figures are identical might smack of collusion, even anti-trust
the "corporate social responsibility" repercussions are more serious,
and will be explored on this site. For now we note that France-based
pledged more than the French government. Developing.
* * *
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AlertNet piece by this correspondent
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for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
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