Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain, has praised the U.N.'s effort to help victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar
- From: Chim <ChimS1@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2008 11:47:41 -0700 (PDT)
Thailand: Cindy McCain Praises UN Relief Operation For Myanmar's
Foreign 2008-06-21 10:22
BANGKOK, THAILAND: Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Republican presidential
nominee-in-waiting Sen. John McCain, has praised the U.N.'s effort to
help victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and panned the country's
military regime for failing to welcome aid.
Cindy McCain, a philanthropist with long experience in humanitarian
assistance, spoke Friday (20 June) after touring a warehouse at an
airport in the Thai capital, Bangkok, where the U.N.'s World Food
Program collects supplies it then airlifts to Myanmar.
She praised the efficiency of the operation, saying that there are
millions of well-meaning people willing to help out in such
emergencies, "but unless it's organized ... it's all for nothing."
She said she wished Myanmar's ruling junta "had been more caring of
their own people," and she was "disheartened" at the regime's
reluctance to admit skilled foreign aid workers and helicopters that
could deliver aid quickly to remote areas.
"There have been many, many people who died as a result of their lack
of ability and their lack of interest in helping their own people,"
The WFP consolidates aid from some 45 humanitarian and charity groups
and flies it into Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, for onward shipment
to areas affected by the 2-3 May storm.
Cindy McCain was briefed by WFP officials about the agency's
operations worldwide, which often see it taking a leading role on
logistics to ensure that its aid can get delivered, and was told that
the program has developed a good relationship with Myanmar's
government since it has been working there for 14 years.
"I'm very encouraged to hear that WFP has developed a relationship
with Myanmar," she said. "There's some trust back and forth now and I
think that it's imperative not only for this particular situation but
imperative from a global aspect for people to begin to trust and
She dodged a reporter's question of whether the WFP's engagement with
the junta was more productive than the approach taken by the United
States and other Western nations, which try to isolate the military
regime by imposing political and economic sanctions against it. Her
husband, like most mainstream U.S politicians, backs sanctions because
of the junta's poor human rights record and failure to hand over power
to a democratically elected government.
"I can speak to this only as someone who's done relief work her entire
adult life and I know from my own experience that people-to-people is
what this is all about, and government-to-government _ I would suggest
go talk to my husband about that."
She was willing to comment however, on Myanmar democracy icon Aung San
Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who's been in detention for more
than 12 of the last 19 years. Her party swept national elections in
1990 but the ruling junta refused to honor the results.
John McCain met Suu Kyi in Myanmar during one of the periods when she
was free, and came back from the experience with "inspiration," she
"How could you not be inspired by someone like that," she said. "She's
an amazing woman and certainly a glow of light in that part of the
Earlier in her Asia trip, Cindy McCain said she didn't even bother
trying to get a visa to Myanmar, knowing it would likely be denied by
the secretive government.
She arrived in Thailand from Vietnam, and will travel over the weekend
to Cambodia, where she will visit another WFP operation on Monday (23
June). (By GRANT PECK/ AP)
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