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Cablegate: Update On Asean Response to Burma Disaster

VZCZCXRO5963
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #0980 1370803
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160803Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9023
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1974
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8424
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0514
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 3210
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0601
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1844
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2503
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2651
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS JAKARTA 000980

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP, OES, PRM, SES-O
STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID
DEPT FOR EB/IFD/OMA
AID/W FOR DCHA/FFP AND DCHA/OTI
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, RTHAYER
BANGKOK FOR DCHA/OFDA WBERGER AND RBARTON
BANGKOK FOR REO OFFICE, USAID/RDMA
PACOM FOR FPA
TREASURY FOR IA-SETH SEARLS
COMMERCE FOR 4430/ KELLY
SINGAPORE FOR BAKER
E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM ID BM
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ASEAN RESPONSE TO BURMA DISASTER


1. (SBU) Summary. According to officials at the ASEAN Secretariat,
most of the members of ASEAN's Emergency Rapid Assessment Team
(ERAT) are now on the ground in Rangoon. On May 16, the ASEAN ERAT
met with Burmese officials to request permission to enter affected
areas. The Government of Burma (GOB) approved the request and will
take the ERAT to several affected areas on May 17, according to our
contacts at the Secretariat. The team will report their findings to
the ASEAN Foreign Ministers at their emergency meeting in Singapore
on May 19. ASEAN continues to favor coordinating closely with the
GOB rather than applying strong pressure. End Summary.

ERAT arrives in Rangoon
-----------------------

2. (SBU) According to officials at the ASEAN Secretariat, five of
the seven members of the ASEAN ERAT team are on the ground in
Rangoon. The Secretariat expects the remaining members to arrive on
May 16. ERAT is coordinating with GOB officials and other relief
agencies, primarily the United Nations Disaster Assessment and
Coordination (UNDAC) team, to assess critical needs in areas
affected by the cyclone. The team consists of experts from Brunei,
Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the ASEAN
Secretariat. On May 16, the ERAT met with GOB officials to request
permission to enter the areas impacted by the cyclone. According to
our contacts at the ASEAN Secretariat, the GOB approved their
request and will take the ERAT to the affected regions on May 17.
The GOB had not previously granted any foreign nationals access to
affected areas, according to ASEAN officials. They note that UNDAC
teams in Rangoon have been relying on local UN staff to conduct
assessments. Once in affected regions, ERAT will gauge areas where
ASEAN can make the most significant contribution to the relief
effort.

ERAT to report conditions to ASEAN Foreign Ministers
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (SBU) ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan will report on
ERAT's findings at the Emergency Meeting of the ASEAN Foreign
Ministers in Singapore on May 19. ASEAN continues to favor close
coordination with the GOB rather than applying strong pressure on
the military junta, according to Secretariat officials. However,
recent press statements from Secretary General Surin reveal a
growing frustration with Burmese resistance to accepting assistance.
ASEAN Secretariat officials are closely coordinating with the
disaster relief focal points in each of the member countries and
provide updates to this network on a daily basis. Secretariat staff
also post public updates on the situation in Burma on the ASEAN
Committee for Disaster Management website (acdm-online.net).

HEFFERN

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