The UN has a great reputation for being careful with its money. Hope this doesn’t tarnish it:

The UN has admitted losing about $10m (£5m) to the Burmese regime while delivering emergency aid to the country in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis because of a distorted official exchange rate. The UN’s senior humanitarian aid official said it had suffered the “significant” loss because the junta enforced an artificial exchange rate that was at least 15 per cent lower than the genuine rate. It has been alleged that the UN had been aware of the loss for weeks and had accepted it as the price of “doing business” with the regime.

Also, is ASEAN getting serious about Burma?

Foreign ministers from member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Singapore expressed their “deep disappointment” with Burma’s continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. They also called for the junta that for decades has ruled the nation with an iron grip to hold “meaningful dialogue” with opposition figures. ASEAN is a consensus-based organization that is loath to speak out on the internal affairs of its members. Given that human rights figured prominently in the meeting’s agenda and the political climate in Burma has deteriorated over the past year, the organization may have decided the time was right to speak out. They also were encouraged by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who credited ASEAN with growing influence in Rangoon. She said the group was instrumental in persuading the junta to reverse its initial obstruction of assistance and accept international aid after Cyclone Nargis killed at least 78,000 people along the Irrawaddy Delta in May. She urged the group to continue engaging Burma to push it toward democracy.

Condi to the rescue. And Bush continues to pile on sanctions against Burma‘s gem trade and overseas assets. Thank goodness he is showing more restraint than usual and hasn’t sent Rambo in yet.

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