SNP MEP Calls For Access to Burma For International Aid

09 May 2008

SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today added his voice to calls on the Burmese government to facilitate bringing international aid and aid personnel to Burma to work on the clearly massive aid operation the country needs in the wake of Cyclone Nargis over the weekend. Mr Smith wholly endorsed the comments of Parliament's President Hans-Gert PĂśttering who used the opening of the current plenary session in Brussels to declare Europe's "deep solidarity" with its victims.

The EU has already earmarked millions of euro in aid and materials, but like many international organisations aid experts are reporting difficulties in accessing the country at all. Mr Smith, who in 2005 invited Burmese pro democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi to address a future SNP conference also called for the postponement of a planned referendum in Burma designed to solidify the grip of the current government over the country.

Mr Smith said:

"I'm certainly not alone in voicing my sadness and sympathy for the victims of this natural disaster, but it seems clear that the consequences are becoming worse entirely because of man made intransigence.

"The international community has made clear that aid and aid experts are ready willing and able to head to Burma to distribute aid, and from the reports we are receiving the situation is becoming increasingly acute.

"For the Burmese government to drag their feet on allowing access to the country betrays their true nature, and throws into sharp relief their lack of concern for their own people. The international community is not perfect, but a lot of good people in NGOs and other aid organisations would be willing to put politics to one side and help with a desperate humanitarian situation, and it is incumbent upon the Burmese government to realise their obligation to their people."