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Cablegate: Following the Relief Supply Chain

VZCZCXRO5052
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGO #0387/01 1361028
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151028Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7610
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1198
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 4742
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8286
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5848
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 1601
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1620
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000387

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, DRL, AND IO
PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: FOLLOWING THE RELIEF SUPPLY CHAIN

REF: RANGOON 365

RANGOON 00000387 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. U Aung Tun Khaing of the Department of
Social Welfare explained a three-part system through which
the GOB has thus far delivered 1,816 tons of international
relief supplies to Cyclone Nargis victims. The supplies,
transported to the affected regions primarily by ship, reach
twenty townships in the Irrawaddy delta. Several other
governments, including the German, Swiss, and Singaporean
governments, deliver aid through INGOs, the UN, or the GOB.
We spoke with contacts from Adventist Relief and Development
Agency (ADRA) who asserted that their representatives had
been misquoted in the May 14 New York Times article on
Cyclone Nargis assistance and stated ADRA had no indication
that the GOB was diverting supplies from storm victims. End
Summary.

Where the Burmese Say It All Goes
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) The GOB has created a network of distribution camps
throughout the Irrawaddy delta region that gets supplies to
Cyclone Nargis victims efficiently, explained U Aung Tun
Khaing, Acting Director General of the Department of Social
Welfare. The Department of Social Welfare has created a base
office in Rangoon and coordinates the distribution of relief
to the delta. The staging grounds that the government has
established are in Pathein and Rangoon. The GOB feeds
supplies to the cyclone-devastated delta region from both.
In response to Poloff's question of whether it would be more
efficient to take C-130 aircraft to Pathein, U Aung Tun
Khaing indicated that the airport does not have the
infrastructure to receive shipments there. He added that
most supplies to the delta went to areas closer to Rangoon.

3. (SBU) From Rangoon and Pathein, relief supplies are
transported to four intermediary camps, located in Labutta,
Myaung Mya, Bogale, and Mawlamyine Island. These camps are
in the worst-hit areas, where supplies can go directly to the
victims, said U Aung Tun Khaing. While he did not have a
list of where donated relief supplies from the USG or other
donors go, he showed Poloff a list of the twenty townships
that donated supplies have reached. As of the evening of May
14, 1,816.02 tons of donated relief supplies had been
distributed by ship, helicopter and truck. The list that U
Aung Tun Khaing provided showed that about 80 percent of
international relief reaches the delta region by ship. The
GOB transports the remainder by helicopter (9 percent) and
truck (11 percent). This tracks with a report in the
government newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, on May 15 that
2,300 kilograms of tents, tarps, medicine, bottled water,
rice, clothes, and utensils had been sent by helicopter to
Bogale township the previous day. Of the twenty townships in
the delta region that relief supplies have reached, the
greatest amount goes to Pyapon, Mawbin, Bogale, Dedaye, and
Pathein.

Donations from Other Countries
------------------------------

4. (SBU) Several other countries have delivered relief
supplies to Burma in the past few days. Early on the morning
of May 15, a flight from Germany delivered seven water
purification systems, including three that can desalinate
water. They passed the systems directly to the World Food
Program (WFP), said Christian Scheibe of the German Embassy.
While they are limited in what they can do to monitor the
effect of the systems, Scheibe hoped that relief workers
would gain access to the delta "soon" to assist in
monitoring. The German Ambassador expressed concern that
they might not be set up properly without German experts to
install, but expressed confidence that the purification units
would go to the delta.

5. (SBU) The Swiss Ambassador from Bangkok arrived to deliver
a shipment of goods to the Adventist Development and Relief
Agency (ADRA). Hans Peter Lenz of the Swiss Agency for

RANGOON 00000387 002.2 OF 002


Development and Cooperation explained that the Swiss
government has worked with ADRA in the past and the group has
worked in the Irrawaddy delta region for the past two years
with good access to the area. Lenz arrived from Switzerland
on May 9 and hoped to reach the delta region himself soon.
He noted, however, that he is not sure when the GOB will
grant him permission to travel.

6. (SBU) Singaporean Ambassador Robert Chua has overseen
small daily shipments of medicine from a private charity in
Singapore since last week. He explained that he operates off
of the assurances of the GOB that supplies reach cyclone
victims. He admitted that he does not know exactly where
supplies go, but hoped to get better information and access
later. Ambassador Chua said that even if some supplies have
been diverted, he had confidence that relief goods were
making it directly to the victims of the cyclone and
therefore, he was helping.

UN and INGO Perspectives
------------------------

7. (SBU) Acting UN Resident Coordinator Dan Baker assured us
employees in the delta had seen no evidence assistance was
being diverted. He assured us also that the UN would ask its
employees to watch for U.S. relief goods being delivered on
the ground.

8. (SBU) Contacts from ADRA asserted that their
representatives had been misquoted in yesterday's New York
Times article that reported assistance was being diverted.
Today ADRA representatives assured us that they had no
indication the GOB had diverted any of its aid. They further
explained that they have no indication that aid diversion is
a growing problem. All of their requests for visas for
international visitors have been granted. Thus far, they
have been able to deliver aid unimpeded to all places they
have tried to access.

9. (SBU) Comment: All donors and the UN recognize the
political sensitivity of reports of donated relief supplies
being diverted. The UN and INGOs are trying to monitor from
the receiving end in the delta. In the contacts we have made
with the Ministry of Social Welfare, officials indicated
their willingness to be transparent in where the relief
supplies are going, and we will continue to monitor local
markets for donated goods regularly. End Comment.
VILLAROSA

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