Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cyclone in Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) was hit by a devastating cyclone (what we call a hurricane -- it just spins in the opposite direction) yesterday. Up to 23,000 are reported dead and more than 40,000 are missing. To get a sense of the scale of flooding and the power of the storm, the before and after shots of the Irawaddy River are shocking.

If you'd like to donate to help support the relief going on there you can do so at:
American Red Cross (to the Disaster Relief Fund)
Global Giving

It's really too bad that the Burmese military government threw out the Red Cross at the end of 2006. Now they are welcoming any kind of relief they can get internationally. The hope here is that a government that has continually shut out the international community will understand the value of being open and more interdependent. That's the hope anyway. I doubt this will change much on the political front. And I certainly hope that our money and support is not used to strengthen an already horribly corrupt and brutal reigning junta.

There is an interesting conversation posted by the WashPo between the paper and Matthew Cochrane spokesman with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Sorry to be cynical, but...:...should we trust the casualty numbers quoted by the Myanmar government? Obviously there has been a terrible tragedy and aid is needed urgently, but should we accept the figures quoted on state radio as a reliable estimate? The state regime is hardly an ally to the west. Shouldn't we seek the evaluations of independent agencies before we cite deaths in the range of 40,000?

Matthew Cochrane: Im' not - the Red Cross isn't - in the position to verify these figures, so I can't say for sure. That said, the reports that we are getting back from the field of the scale of the devastation suggest that the figures being reported now (approx. 22,000) are realistic.

But our focus is on quickly assessing the damage and the needs, and making sure that we can get the aid out to those who need it most.

Help out and give $20. Or fly there yourself.

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