France to seek UN resolution on aid deliveries if Myanmar doesn't open pipeline quickly
France will push for a U.N. resolution authorizing the delivery of aid to survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar "by all means necessary" if pressure from the U.N. chief and the country's neighbors doesn't open the aid pipeline quickly, France's U.N. ambassador said Thursday.
Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said France will wait to hear from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes, who are visiting Myanmar, and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is in charge of coordinating international aid, "to see if there is some concrete improvement on the access to the victims."
"We don't see any improvement," except that for the first time the U.N. World Food Program operated a small helicopter from Yangon on Thursday, he said.
Ban was scheduled to meet Friday with Myanmar's junta leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, to press him to fully open up to international aid for 2.5 million cyclone survivors. On Thursday, the U.N. chief witnessed some of the devastation caused by the May 2-3 cyclone during a carefully choreographed tour to the hard-hit Irrawaddy delta.
"The point now is to see if the pressure that is put by us, by the countries who put pressure on them, by the secretary-general, by John Holmes, by ASEAN countries, is going to be useful," Ripert told a group of reporters.
"If not, we will have to go back to the Security Council," he said.
In an editorial in the French daily newspaper Le Monde published Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the Security Council can and should force Myanmar to allow delivery of international aid. Otherwise, he said, the council would be guilty of "cowardice."
Ripert said France's plan to go to the Security Council "if nothing moves in the next few days" is receiving more support every day from concerned governments.
"We should pass a resolution allowing to go directly to the population ... to ask all the countries in the world and all the members states in a position to do so to deliver aid by all means necessary - the humanitarian aid - in cooperation with the Burmese authorities," he said.
In the Le Monde editorial, Kouchner said the Security Council "can decide to intervene to force the passage of humanitarian aid," saying it did so in the past in Kurdistan in Iraq, Bosnia and Rwanda - and could do it again with Myanmar, AP reported.