New Delhi (Mizzima) – The United States government recently donated over 16,000 tons of rice as part its humanitarian assistance program directed at the most vulnerable victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck coastal regions of Burma nearly one year ago.
The report, released Thursday by the U.S. Embassy in the former Burmese capital of Rangoon, stated that the U.S. recently provided 16,620 metric tons of rice, valued at 16 million dollars, to Cyclone victims from the country's Irrawaddy delta region critically in need of food.
The shipment of rice arrived in military ruled Burma in February, added the report.
“Over the last two days, Chris Kaye from our office [WFP Myanmar] and a U.S. Embassy official (Chargé d’Affaires Larry Dinger) went to the delta region to oversee the distribution of rice to Cyclone victims,” staff from the WFP (World Food Programme) office in Rangoon told Mizzima on Friday, declining to elaborate on further details of the trip.
WFP estimates the recently donated rice will reach 350,000 Cyclone victims badly in need of food, reiterating, “Some of the rice is being distributed under food-for-work projects managed by cooperating NGO partners to support the rebuilding of roads, dikes, and water ponds."
Moreover, the U.S. Embassy's report noted that a total of 74 million dollars in humanitarian assistance for Cyclone victims, inclusive of the recently donated rice, has been provided by the U.S. since Cyclone Nargis swept across the Irrawaddy delta region and Rangoon Division on May 2 and 3 of last year, claiming over 100,000 lives and leaving thousands more homeless.
The U.S., which has a long estranged with Burma, has imposed extensive sanctions on the Burmese regime for its poor record of human rights and reluctance to free Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners – actions that the U.S. deems essential before political reform can come to the country.
However, on Wednesday, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State James B. Steinberg announced that the U.S. is seeking a "collaborative and constructive" approach on Burma, adding that the new U.S. administration is open to setting up a new and "flexible" framework similar to the six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program.