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Bogalay residents accuse authorities of selling aid

Jun 5, 2008 (DVB), Despite the Burmese regime's promise to prosecute anyone found misappropriating cyclone aid, Bogalay residents claim local authorities are openly selling international relief supplies for their own profit.

A resident of Bogalay township in the Irrawaddy delta said the ward Peace and Development Council chairperson had sold United Nations-branded sacks of rice to a local businessman.

"Yesterday, the ward PDC chairperson of Hai Shay sub-village tract, U Poe Zaw, sold 250 rice sacks to Maung Kaung, a shop owner, at his shop in Ward No. 3 of Bogalay township for 10,000 kyat per sack," the resident said.

Another local told DVB that authorities from the local forestry department had also sold large quantities of diesel intended for cyclone relief to fund the daily expenses of the minister for agriculture and forestry, U Aung Phone.

"Every minister has been assigned to a township in the worst-affected areas to oversee relief operations," the local explained.

"Here it's U Aung Phone. He is staying at a township guesthouse, enjoying himself in a nice air-conditioned room. He hasn't inspected the situation in the town or gone to see those who are in trouble," he said.

"Our township has to take care of food and everything for him, which I believe cost a considerable amount of money, and yesterday I saw people from the forestry department selling hundreds of gallons of diesel."

Bogalay residents told DVB that the lack of effective aid distribution by the authorities in the month since the cyclone stuck meant that cyclone victims have been reliant on donations from artists, private donors and NGOs to survive.

In mid-May, the SPDC announced that complaints regarding the misappropriation of domestic or international aid and cash donations for cyclone victims could be sent to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and those responsible would be prosecuted.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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