Gates: Junta Aid Delays Killed Thousands

Defense Secretary slams 'deaf and dumb' Burmese rulers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2008 6:21 AM CDT
Gates: Junta Aid Delays Killed Thousands
A US helicopter carries supplies in their air during a US military demonstration in eastern Thailand of its aid-giving capabilities, Saturday, May 31, 2008.    (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Tens of thousands of Burmese have died because of their government's refusal to allow in foreign aid after Cyclone Nargis, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday. Gates accused the military leaders of being "deaf and dumb" to the plight of their people, Reuters reports. American ships in the region have not been allowed to deliver relief supplies to Burma.

Gates' blunt condemnation of the generals came as aid workers warned that Burma was evicting survivors from relief centers and forcing them back to the devastated Irrawaddy Delta to rebuild. One man evicted from a relief camp said he had been given 20 bamboo poles and some tarpaulins to go back and build a new home for him and his five siblings. (More Burma stories.)

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