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Cablegate: Canada's Response to Cyclone Nargis

VZCZCXRO0130
PP RUEHDT RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHPB RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0646/01 1302016
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 092016Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7836
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1275
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0414

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000646

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS (COPE)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL BM CA
SUBJECT: CANADA'S RESPONSE TO CYCLONE NARGIS

REF: A. SECSTATE 48651
B. OTTAWA 621

Sensitive but unclassified

1. (sbu) Canada is committed to providing emergency aid to
Burma, but remains stymied by the Burmese regime's actions
blocking humanitarian relief, Foreign Affairs and
International Trade's Director of Humanitarian Affairs and
Disasters Response Group Leslie Hope told Econcouns on May 9.
Joined by Lt. Commander Mike McKay, seconded from the
Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) to help
coordinate Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)
efforts, Hope stated that Canada shared the U.S. views and
experiences laid out in ref a. She said the initial obstacle
is simply being allowed into Burma. Once that is overcome,
attention would turn toward building capacity infrastructure
and getting access to the areas devastated by the cyclone.
Hope added that some Canadian diplomats stationed in Thailand
-- but also accredited to Burma -- might soon be receiving
entry visas.

2. (sbu) Hope stated that Canada "is pressing for (the
delivery of) humanitarian assistance through the UN." She
said this effort includes public statements by Ministers (see
ref b and paragraph 5), demarches encouraging countries with
ties to Burma to lobby the regime, and convoking the Burmese
charge d'affaires in Ottawa. Hope stated that the Burmese
CDA had been "noncommittal" to Canadian entreaties, only
promising to fax them to Rangoon.

3. (sbu) Canada's C$2 million pledge for Burma relief
announced on May 5 (ref b) would undoubtedly increase if and
when the Burmese regime allowed international aid to flow
into the country, Hope stated. She also noted that Minister
for International Cooperation Bev Oda's May 8 announcement of
C$500,000 for the International Federation of the Red Cross
and Red Crescent (IFRC) is part of the initial C$2 million
pledge, and is not an additional allocation. Hope said
Canada's estimate of the total international assistance
pledged to date was $41 million. She also stated that Canada
would be closely watching the (expected) May 9 appeal by the
World Food Programme (WFP) for $100 million in pledges, much
of which would go for building logistical and
telecommunications infrastructure needed for delivering
assistance.

4. (sbu) Lt Commander McKay stated that a four-person
Canadian DART is now in Bangkok, awaiting permission to enter
Burma. Charged with assessing the political environment as
well as humanitarian needs, the DART would -- under normal
circumstances -- lead the way for a seven-member
reconnaissance team, McKay said. Based on the two teams'
recommendations, the military would then decide if the entire
DART apparatus (some 240 diplomatic, military, and aid
personnel) should deploy and whether other Canadian forces
should become involved. McKay expressed doubt that any
Canadian DART team would be allowed to enter Burma, but
acknowledged the need to make "public statement" by sending a
team to the region.

5. (u) In addition to the May 5 statement on providing
humanitarian assistance to Burma (ref b), Canada released
another statement the evening of May 8.

Begin text:

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International
Cooperation, today offered the service of Canada's Disaster
Assistance Response Team (DART) following Tropical Cyclone
Nargis, and urged the Government of Burma to grant immediate
QNargis, and urged the Government of Burma to grant immediate
access to humanitarian actors:

"As the number of dead and missing continues to grow, the
international community has responded rapidly to offer
much-needed humanitarian assistance to communities in Burma
affected by this disaster," the ministers said. "Although we
are heartened by the news that some United Nations officials
and relief flights are gaining access, we urge the Government
of Burma to move quickly to grant immediate full and
unhindered humanitarian access, including the necessary visas
and customs clearance, so that desperately needed assistance
may reach the people of Burma."

"Earlier today," said Minister Bernier, "I spoke with UN

OTTAWA 00000646 002 OF 002


Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and reconfirmed Canada's
support and willingness to help. We have already pledged up
to $2 million in humanitarian relief. We are now offering
the services of our Disaster Assistance Response Team to help
with relief efforts. A Canadian advance team has left for
the region to assess how Canada can best deliver its support."

The ministers added, "Given the widespread and devastating
effects of Tropical Cyclone Nargis, Canada calls upon the
Burmese government to focus on meeting the immediate needs of
its people rather than pushing forward with the upcoming
referendum on the Constitution.

"The window of opportunity to save lives and alleviate
suffering is rapidly closing. We cannot afford to wait any
longer."

End text.

6. (u) On May 9, Canada's House of Commons unanimously
adopted a motion regarding Burma.

Begin text:

"That the House:

(a) denounce the Burmese military regime's deplorable
response to the crisis following Cyclone Nargis:

(b) condemn the unprecedented seizure of international aid
shipments by the military regime;

(c) urge the Burmese regime to allow full and unrestricted
access to international aid agencies and nongovernmental
organizations:

and (d) reaffirms its support for the Burmese people during
this tragic period in their history.

End text.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

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