Government officials appropriate international aid

May 13, 2008 (DVB), Government officials and supporters have been taking relief supplies from international donors and selling them on for personal gain, according to sources in Rangoon.

A Rangoon resident said military trucks had come to Nyaungpinlay market in the city to sell instant noodle packets, but no one had bought them.

"In Bogalay, you can buy raincoats donated by the UN, as many as you like for 8000 [kyat]. Rolls of tarpaulin can be bought in Bogalay's Chinatown for 100,000 a roll. Merchants bought all 100 rolls straight away," he said.

"A shopkeeper who sold food to refugees in Bogalay on 4 May asked soldiers from Battalion 66 to help her keep order, but the soldiers took away all her merchandise and did not return it," he went on.

"Soldiers also took away all the goods from a boat that docked in Bogalay harbour after the storm and then sold them in the market four or five days later."

Members of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association reportedly confiscated bottles of purified water donated by companies in Ma-Upin.

All the high-energy biscuits donated by the international community were taken by Rangoon Military Command and replaced with poor quality Industry Ministry-1 biscuits with labels that said "donated by the international community" and given to refugees, according to an official of the ministry.

The same official said that good-quality blankets and mosquito nets had been given to civil servants.

National League for Democracy spokesperson U Nyan Win said party members had seen foreign relief supplies on sale in a Rangoon market.

"Our storm relief committee went to buy quite a lot of towels from Mingalar market to donate them to refugees," he said.

"When we looked at them back in the office, they were labelled 'WFP' and had a Japanese flag in the middle with 'Donated by the people of Japan' written underneath."

Nyan Win stressed the government's duty to ensure relief supplies get to the people who need them most.

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