Myanmar after Nargis

Hundreds of thousands of people are in dire need in Myanmar. The death toll of Cyclone Nargis is rising sharply as news travels from the remote Irrawaddy delta area that entire villages, most of which are built from bamboo, have been swept away. The generals who run Myanmar have appealed for international material assistance but insist on mediating it themselves – they don’t want the personnel who come with the aid. Meanwhile they’re drastically restricting the activities of aid workers by imposing visas and permits. At least one specialist UN team is held up in Bangkok.

“I have not had anything from the government nor do I expect anything from the government … All I need is my hut. I want a place to stay,” said one survivor.

On Radio 4’s ten o’clock news a representative from The Burma Campaign said that this humanitarian disaster needs a coordinated international response, criticised Ban Ki Moon’s neglect in demanding the entry of foreign aid agencies, asserted that the junta will steal aid channelled through it, and advised pressure on international governments to insist on a coordinated international effort based on cooperation not unconditional handouts to a regime that has zero concern for the needs of its population.

I searched for a way to advance this. Oxfam requests donations to its general emergency fund. The Red Cross has a Myanmar Cyclone Appeal, as do Islamic Relief and Save the Children. The Guardian has recommendations. Red R’s press release has been pulled. It’s pretty chaotic and I haven’t been able to find a coordinated effort to get specialist aid workers into Myanmar. Hello, UN? EU?

For now Write to Your MP asking him/her to broach the issue.


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