The Invasion of Burma

by twit

can begin now. From the BBC on May 20, 2008:

The UK National Health Service emergency medicine consultant says 5,000 sq km (1,900 sq miles) of land in the region remain under water.

map

but via M&C, by way of Slog on May 22, 2008:

Bangkok – Myanmar’s junta claims the relief phase of an emergency programme for Cyclone Nargis is over…

While international aid agencies claim to have only reached 25 per cent of the affected population, Myanmar’s junta is already claiming that the ‘rescue and relief’ stage of the operation is completed

From the BBC on May 23, 2008:

… in a meeting earlier with Burma’s Prime Minister Thein Sein, [U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon] was told that the relief phase of the aid operation was over and that the government was now focusing on reconstruction, a UN official said.

Mr Ban told the prime minister that the disaster was beyond Burma’s ability to handle on its own and that foreign aid experts should be rushed in.

At this point, the Burma junta won’t even pretend to respond to the ongoing disaster and has apparently given up on trying to appease the international community with fake photo-ops and staged distributions of limited and insufficient aid. They have announced that they are leaving a large segment of their population without clean drinking water, without shelter, without food and without medical attention. They are ending relief efforts while the country remains in crisis and still has huge areas under water.

There is something terribly wrong with our international community if it cannot take decisive action to stop this government-engineered genocide of what could ultimately be hundreds of thousands of people. The BBC has previously reported that up to 2.5 million people remain at risk due to the cyclone, so a fear of hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths may be an exercise in optimism.

From the Associated Press on May 22, 2008:

In some areas, the flooding stretched as far as the eye could see, with people living in damaged homes that looked completely cut off.

So far, no one at the U.N. has ventured an estimate of how long the delta is expected to remain submerged. But on Thursday, [U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon] said he expected the relief operations to be needed for at least six months.

… “Don’t just talk, you must take action,” said Eain Daw Bar Tha, abbot of a Buddhist monastery on Yangon’s outskirts. “The U.N. must directly help the people with helicopters to bring food, clothes and clean water to the really damaged places.”

update: From the International Herald Tribune on May 25, 2008:

In village after village of the Irrawaddy Delta in southern Myanmar, people line the roads.

… When an occasional car carrying donations approaches, children swarm toward it holding out their hands. Mothers hugging babies, too ashamed or shocked to ask for help, just stare into the eyes of any visitors. Fathers and grandmothers stand by, watching the scene with eyes filled with humiliation.

… Of the nearly two dozen people interviewed this past weekend along the roads, all said they got little, if any, relief from their government. All said they did not expect any because they are not used to that kind of help from the junta. Few have heard about foreign aid flowing in. None have seen any.

… With the government offering little help, private citizens from big cities like Yangon ply the roads with urgently needed supplies.

… The storm survivors on the roads, not used to begging, simply accepted donations with a faint smile or no display of emotion. No looting or rioting was seen or reported. The most aggressive behavior displayed came from children, who stuck their hands into the windows of passing cars. Most just silently waited for any help to come their way.

[emphasis added]

Previous Posts:

The Battle for Burma

Going to War with Burma

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