Tuesday May 27 2008
Dr. Surin Pisuwan, Secretary General, ASEAN, reporting at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Bangkok Thailand on the donors’ conference Sunday with Gen. Than Shwe of Myanmar and UN chief Ban Ki Moon in Yangon. The key issue has been the loosening of strict controls on foreign aid workers pressing for unfettered access to the disaster zone. To counter Burmese fears of “hidden agendas” by Western workers, ASEAN has agreed to coordinate all relief efforts.
What has been achieved is far more than what was expected. A new humanitarian “space,” however limited, so that ASEAN with the support of the UN can engage with the Myanmar authorities. That humanitarian space needs political support because in and of itself it cannot be sustained. The secty general of the UN and ASEAN has asked for the full cooperation of the aid community.