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Cablegate: Mgbm01: Rtg, Thai Ngos Sending Cash, Supplies To

VZCZCXRO9436
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #1430/01 1301027
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091027Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2986
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 8695
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA IMMEDIATE 7560
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2028
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 5330
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 5947
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1671
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4593
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 2280
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 5130
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1523
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0207
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0881
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0985
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0717
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5232
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 001430

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR PHU, EAP/MLS FOR AARON COPE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM EAID TH BM
SUBJECT: MGBM01: RTG, THAI NGOS SENDING CASH, SUPPLIES TO
BURMA

REF: A. BANGKOK 1414 THAI PM TO URGE BURMA ACCEPT AID

B. SECSTATE 48651 HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE TO CYCLONE
NARGIS

BANGKOK 00001430 001.2 OF 004


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The MFA reported to us that the RTG was already in
the process of transferring USD 300,000 to the Burmese
government and that the Royal Thai Air Force delivered three
planeloads of relief supplies as of May 8. Thus far, RTG
assistance has been limited to the delivery of supplies only,
and the Thai offer to send a medical team was rebuffed by the
Burmese. The Thais expect to send in additional flights with
supplies in the coming days as part of an operation being
organized by the Office of the Royal Thai Armed Forces
Supreme Commander. In addition, several private Thai
businesses, various Burmese exile groups, and cross-border
NGOs are organizing their own relief efforts. Officials at
the Canadian and Australian Embassies also shared their
assistance plans to date. While the Canadians face many of
the same access hurdles as the USG, the Australian Ambassador
was able to intervene with the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok in
order to secure a visa for an Australian national working
with World Vision. End summary.

----------------------------------
RTG CONTRIBUTING TO RELIEF EFFORTS
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador delivered reftel B points to Prime
Minister Samak Sundaravej on May 8 (ref A) and post followed
up later in the day with MFA Burma Senior Desk Officer
Jirusaya Birananda. According to Birananda, several entities
in the RTG and Thai private sector were organizing the
delivery of much-needed supplies to Burma in response to
Burmese government's request for international assistance
following the damage wreaked by Cyclone Nargis. Jirusaya
emphasized that all humanitarian assistance to date had been
in the form of cash and commodities. Jirusaya stated that
the Burmese government flat out rejected the Thais' offer to
send a medical team to support Burmese health workers
responding to the disaster, saying that they only wanted
supplies for the time being. She opined that perhaps the
Burmese could not accommodate additional people at this stage
and that therefore, the RTG would not press the matter but
rather await further guidance from the Burmese.

3. (SBU) The primary RTG agencies providing the bulk of
humanitarian assistance to date are the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Energy, Thai
Red Cross, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
(EGAT), and the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT).
Jirusaya described the Royal Thai Air Force Supreme Command
as coordinating the collection and transportation of the
following items (except where noted) as follows:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
-- USD 100,000 donated to the Burmese Ambassador to Thailand
in the name of the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Association

Ministry of Public Health
-- Medicine and medical supplies valued at approximately USD

BANGKOK 00001430 002.2 OF 004


325,000

Ministry of Energy
-- food
-- electrical supplies
-- plastic sheets
-- roofing materials

Thai Red Cross
-- 1,000 'living bags' (consisting of basic foods, household
supplies, first aid kits, plastic bags, and similar items)
-- Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (head of the
organization) expected to donate water purification systems
and tablets via the Thai Red Cross

EGAT
-- USD 200,000 transferred to its counterpart in Burma
-- electrical equipment

PTT
-- 100,000 liters of diesel fuel
-- food

---------------------------
ACTIVITIES ALONG THE BORDER
---------------------------

4. (SBU) Burmese exiles and cross-border NGOs we spoke with
stated they have very limited contact with their colleagues
inside Burma. Overall, there is little direct assistance
they can contribute to relief efforts. However, they remain
vocal in the international community admonishing the State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) for maintaining the May
10 referendum date and for not doing enough to respond to
disaster victims.

5. (SBU) Well-known Burmese activist and founder of the Mae
Tao Clinic Dr. Cynthia Maung spearheaded an appeal to the
international community urging that governments and the UN
deliver aid to disaster victims without waiting for proper
visas from the Burmese government. Joined by the National
Health and Education Committee - Burma (NHEC), the Burma
Medical Association (BMA), and the Back Pack Health Worker
Team (BPHWT), the letter called for immediate assistance and
claimed that "any delays in providing aid to our (Burmese)
people just adds to the unbearably long list of crimes
against humanity already committed by the military junta."

6. (SBU) Jack Dunford, Executive Director of the Thai-Burma
Border Consortium (TBBC) told us his cross-border assistance
providers reported no major damage in Mon and Karen states.
However, Dunford foresaw that further destabilization in the
Irrawaddy delta region (where many Karen are from) had the
strong potential to result in increased flows of refugees and
migrants to Thailand. He explained that there is a strong
existing connection between those on the border and those in
the Irrawaddy delta region, which could serve to draw more
people to the border as things become more difficult in the
delta region. At the very least, he expected increased
numbers of migrant workers to head for Thailand to seek any
means possible to support families in the wake of the
cyclone's destruction. Mae Tao Clinic staff told CG Chiang
Mai that they were very concerned about the possibility of a
large influx of unaccompanied minor children into Thailand in

BANGKOK 00001430 003.2 OF 004


the medium and long-term.

7. (SBU) Members of the Thailand-based NGO Partners Relief
and Development (which works closely with Free Burma Rangers)
told CG Chiang Mai personnel that they have a way to courier
cash inside Burma and distribute it, as well as the ability
to truck supplies from Chiang Mai to the border within 48
hours of receiving the cash and/or supplies. While the
Burmese Embassy in Thailand refused visas to Partners'
medical team, on May 8 the organization shipped 400 boxes of
the nutritional supplement Vitameal (valued at approximately
USD 8,000).

-------------------------------------
UPDATE FROM AUSTRALIANS AND CANADIANS
-------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Officials from the Canadian and Australian Embassies
in Thailand shared the latest on their efforts to provide
humanitarian assistance. Steve Rheault-Kihara, Political
Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy, told us that Canada's
Disaster Assessment team -- referred to as DART -- is en
route to Bangkok and will arrive Saturday, May 10 at 0600.
The team will arrive on their own cargo plane, which is a
self-contained unit capable of providing medical assistance,
water purification, and other emergency relief. The four
team members accompanying the plane are prepared to undertake
an assessment of the situation in Burma (if allowed in) as
part of a wider effort by the Canadians to provide
humanitarian assistance to Burma. Rheault-Kihara delivered
the team members' visa applications to the Burmese Embassy
earlier today, though he is not expecting a quick reply.

9. (SBU) Mikaela Browning, Political Counselor at the
Australian Embassy in Bangkok told us that the Australian
Ambassador met with the Burmese Ambassador to Thailand to
plead the case of the international community that the
Burmese allow humanitarian aid workers to enter Burma
soonest. The Burmese Ambassador replied that he was willing
do everything he could to facilitate this request and would
relay it to the Ministry of Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw. As
evidence of this, the Burmese Ambassador cited his Embassy's
immediate processing of the visa request for an Australian
national seeking to enter Burma to work with World Vision.
Browning noted that her Embassy has very good relations with
the Burmese Embassy in Thailand. However, they have no
specific plans to use that relationship to push for
additional visas for specific Australian nationals. Rather
they will continue to encourage the Burmese to push for visas
for UNDAC officials, many of whom are Australian nationals.
Browning cited that to date the Australian government has
pledged USD 3 million to support relief efforts being carried
out by World Vision and the World Food Program.

-------------------------------------------
THAI PRESS: "RTG IS BURMA'S FRIEND IN NEED"
-------------------------------------------

10. (U) Most reports in the Thai press focused on the
severity of the storm, its victims and damage. They
highlighted the role of the Thai government, both in terms of
providing assistance and acting as an intermediary between
the Burmese and the international community to facilitate the
transport of supplies and relief workers to Burma. Local

BANGKOK 00001430 004.2 OF 004


press also reported that King Bhumibol had sent condolences
to Burmese top General Than Shwe. Finally, the Ambassador's
May 8 meeting with PM Samak (ref A) and subsequent press
conference with USAID officials received widespread coverage
in print and broadcast media throughout Thailand.

11. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate General
Chiang Mai.
JOHN

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