Cyclone survivors forced to work and pay for aid

May 17, 2008 (DVB), Cyclone victims in Bogalay township, Irrawaddy division, have had to pay for relief supplies provided to them by the international community, according to a private donor who visited the area.

The donor also told DVB that local authorities had switched international aid with products from Industry-1 before distribution.

"On 10 May, local authorities in Ngabyayma village in southern Bogalay forced cyclone survivors to buy petrol for 1000 kyat a gallon," he said.

"Villagers also had to buy canvas sheets marked 'UNICEF'," he went on.

"According to an eye witness, authorities there switched international aid with products from Industry-1 and then distributed it to the people. I heard they even switched food."

He added that people in a temporary camp in Bogalay had been asked or forced to cut trees and reconstruct roads destroyed by the cyclone.

"I have learnt from those who just came back from Bogalay and Bassein that people in Bogalay camp have been forced by the authorities to collect trash and cut trees," the donor said.

"They are paid 2000 kyat a day and asked to survive themselves," he said.

"Food distribution in the camp is insufficient. People in the camp are ordered to provide unpaid labour as well."

The donor also said authorities in Bogalay township were reportedly stockpiling some of the relief supplies from the international community in warehouses, and would distribute the rest of the supplies only if people voted 'Yes' in the 24 May referendum.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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