Pattaya Daily News

10 May 2008 :: 16:05:34 pm 29739

Burma Victims Need Help Right Now

May 9, 2008 (DVB)?The secretary-general of the United Nations and the leaders and foreign ministers of many nations including the United States, China, France and the UK have all urged the Burmese regime to allow international aid into the country to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis.?
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The situation in Burma is becoming increasingly desperate. Most peripheral towns south of Rangoon, like Kungyan Gone, Kawhmu, Kayan and Thongwa, are still heavily flooded and only accessible by helicopter.

Tens of thousands of families are still stranded in their farm houses, surrounded by sea water. No help has reached the area yet, and the death toll in the area is likely to continue rising. Yesterday, donations of rice from merchants in Rangoon began to arrive in Bogolay, one of the hardest-hit towns in Irrawaddy division.

Donors reported tragic scenes of families searching for loved ones amongst the corpses. No-one has the capacity to deal with the thousands of dead bodies scattered everywhere, increasing the risk of disease.

About 25,000 injured and traumatized survivors from Latputta and Mawgyun townships in Irrawaddy division were picked up by boats and carried to safety in Myaungmya. The regime ordered local people to provide food.

But the locals have quickly run out of rice and medicines, clean water, food and clothing are all urgently required, with 5,000 more survivors expected to arrive in Myaungmya tomorrow. In Rangoon division, people in Hlaing Tharyar, North and South Dagon, Shwepyithar, Dawpone, Dala, Seikkyi Kanaungdo, Thanlyin and Kyauktan areas were among the hardest hit.

Relief provided by the regime in these areas has been inadequate, angering local people. Local authorities have assumed complete control over aid distribution in the area, with the Union Solidarity and Development Association giving some aid to local people merely as a token gesture.

In Rangoon itself, suburban areas of the city are now becoming accessible, but electricity and water supplies are still cut off. Many people have to rely on lakes on the outskirts of the city for water.

In downtown Rangoon, state-sponsored agencies like the USDA are selling construction materials such as zinc roofing and nails rather than giving it away. Rangoon is the only place in the storm-hit area where clean drinking water is available, but at vastly inflated prices. In spite of this desperate situation, the Burmese regime has been slow to accept international aid and still refuses international expertise.

The regime’s refusal to issue visas to relief experts is unprecedented, according to the UN. The country is technologically poor, and the regime does not have the expertise or the capacity to effectively manage the aid operation. The regime can ill-afford to refuse this help. If the international community – particularly the United States, the UK, France and China – cannot get access to Burma to help victims, even more people will lose their lives. The authorities have stated that they are only willing to accept money and aid. This allows them to maintain their absolute grip on power and, through their propaganda machine inside Burma, the illusion that they are the benevolent ones who are providing aid to the people. The regime is still determined to go ahead with the referendum on its draft state constitution. Its obsession with legitimacy and refusal to postpone the referendum nationwide in favour of focusing efforts on delivering aid is costing Burmese lives.

Now is the time to go into Burma and deliver the help that is so desperately needed, with or without the regime’s permission.

The United Nations must give an ultimatum to Than Shwe’s regime, calling for permission to enter the country within the next 48 hours. If Than Shwe’s regime ignores the ultimatum, the UN should enter Burma without his permission.

Burma does not belong to Than Shwe and his army. Burma belongs to 57 million people. Now nearly two million people are suffering and need water, shelter, medicine and food immediately.

The people of Burma cannot wait any longer; too many will die..

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : World News

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