Burma Cyclone


Photos: Trail of destruction in Burma by carpediemdg

Here’s the link to ‘pictures of the day’ on the New York Times website. Among other events across the globe, the photographs capture the trail of destruction left behind by cyclone Nargis as UN Sect. General, Ban-Ki-Moon surveys the scene.

Pictures of the Day

— Divya

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Latest News: United Nations Secretary General to visit Burma by carpediemdg

According to the latest news reports from Associated Press, the UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon will be visiting Burma this Thursday, stay till Friday, then head to Bangkok and return to Rangoon on Sunday to attend a pledging conference to be jointly hosted and organized by ASEAN and the United Nations.

His visit comes after initial resistance by the military junta which has seemingly relented, in small measure, on the issue of aid distribution by foreign aid workers but limited such assistance to its “Asian neighbors.” Responding to the opportunity, “in Singapore, an emergency meeting of foreign ministers from the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed to set up an ASEAN-led task force for distributing foreign aid.”

In other highlights from the article,

  • Myanmar Foreign Minister Nyan Win told the meeting that losses from the cyclone are expected to be “well over US$10 billion.”
  • United Nations said the rest of its foreign staff were still barred from the delta and it described conditions there as “terrible,” with hundreds of thousands of cyclone victims suffering from hunger, disease and lack of shelter.

Read the full article here.

–Divya



Death toll and missing: Official death toll 78,000 and number of missing 50,000 by carpediemdg

The Independent reports that in just one day Burma (Burmese State Television) reported that the official death toll had risen from 43,000 to 78,000. The number of missing had similarly jumped to exactly double from 28,000 to 56,000. The UN now estimates the death toll to be as high as 200,000 whereas the Red Cross estimates 128,000, according to the article. Without proper access, there is no accurate basis to back these numbers, the article added.

Other highlights from the article:

  • An estimated 2.5 million survivors of the cyclone are facing an uphill battle to avoid disease and stand up on their feet again. (Burma’s total population is an estimated 50 million)
  • Regime claims the crisis is fully under control – roadside begging for aid along mile-long stretches outside of Rangoon suggests otherwise.
  • Red Cross warns that what survivors need most is clean drinking water if they are to not fall victims to deadly water-borne diseases.”Food is urgent, but you die in three days from acute diarrhea. You die of starvation in a period of weeks, ” said Thomas Gurtner, the head of operations for the Red Cross.
  • Myanmar Red Cross Society is currently one of the very few agents distributing aid extensively on ground. Gurtner admits that its 27,000 volunteers are not enough and they are lacking material, logistical and staff capacity to take on the challenge they are facing on the ground.
  • Military government continues to make tiny concessions – foreign diplomats will be given a tour of the severely affected Irrawaddy delta. They will be the first foreigners to inspect the region.
  • The United Nations chief humanitarian affairs officer, John Holmes, flies to Burma tomorrow for talks which he hopes will persuade the generals to open the door to foreign aid.
  • United Nations admitted it did not have a clue about the size of the emergency. At a press conference called by several UN agencies in Bangkok, the most basic data was missing, from the number of children orphaned to the extent of disease to the number of refugee camps.

Read full article here.

–Divya



Latest News: TOP OF THE AGENDA:Myanmar crisis devolves by carpediemdg

(via Ann Cooper, Columbia Journalism School Faculty)

A U.S. diplomat said the death toll in Myanmar following a cyclone could reach 100,000 (WashPost), a number sharply higher than initial estimates. Myanmar government figures put the number of victims at 22,000, with another 40,000 missing. But al-Jazeera reports the situation on the ground has become increasingly grave and that many initial survivors of the cyclone now face life-threatening circumstances, particularly given a lack of clean water.

Myanmar’s government has agreed to allow UN aircraft to fly in aid supplies (BBC). But relief organizations maintain that their efforts to assist the cyclone’s victims are still being hampered by the country’s military. France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner yesterday invoked a UN doctrine called the “responsibility to protect” (IHT) as a way to possibly circumvent the military government. The 2005 doctrine says the international community has the right to intervene when a government could not or would not protect its civilians.

— Divya