Granted, the Myanmar Junta had no control over the fact that Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit landfall in Burma, but it did have control over adequately warning the Burmese citizens of the impending dangers of the storm. It did not. There were few warnings and no evacuations. As a result, 80,000 people have been reported dead in one village alone, 44,000 plus are missing, it is estimated that the deaths will exceed well over 100,000, and at least one million people have been left homeless. Many of them children.
And, it has failed miserably in the aftermath. The government, supposed caretaker and protector of its people, is doing virtually nothing. The military out in force last year, so readily available and willing to shoot innocent monks during their peaceful demonstrations, have been of little or no help. It's been 5 days since the storm, the people are starving, there is very little clean water, bodies are rotting in huge piles, and there are fears many more will die from starvation or disease, creating an even greater humanitarian disaster that could well rival that of the Tsunami of 2004. Unbelievably, the military is thought to be profiting from the catastrophe by grossly inflating the prices of water and food, and "trying to sell things like roofing on the black market."
Relief agencies and aid groups are poised and waiting to enter the country, but the Junta is dragging its feet by insisting on reviewing each and every visa. People are dying, and they are reviewing visas??!!
The junta has insisted that foreign aid workers must "negotiate" their entry to the country. The United Nations said the regime has finally appointed a minister to review visa applications by aid workers, but that no permits have yet been issued.
Many countries have pledged monetary and physical assistance, including the U.S. which has pledged 3 million, but help is being thwarted on every level by a bunch of paranoid generals who somehow feel threatened by allowing an influx of foreigners into a country they've had complete control over for decades. Obviously, they would rather see their people die, than relinquish some control. The Burmese deserve better, and hopefully will finally do something about a group of leaders who have systematically dragged what was once a thriving, prosperous country into darkness and despair.
In the meantime, The Centre for Cross Cultural Research at the Australian National University (ANU) has said that, in spite of the fact that the Junta will more than likely hoard much of the humanitarian aid, this should not stop the world from coming to Burma's aid. The only people who have stepped into action, ironically, are the Buddhist monks. The Junta, threatened by that, has been waging a propaganda war. According to Monique Skidmore , of the ANU,
"There's a bit of a propaganda battle being waged between the military, they're trying to stop pictures of monks helping the population from getting out into the public domain."
The monks have been providing shelter and food at their monasteries for the displaced and suffering people. For those who would rather see their donations go directly to the Burmese people, rather than the military Junta, Avaaz.org is soliciting for the International Burmese Monks Organization and related groups, they
will transmit funds directly to monasteries in affected areas.In many ofFor more information, please go to FreeBurma.org
the worst-hit areas, the monasteries are the only source of shelter and food for Burma's poorest people. They have been on the front lines of the aid effort since the storm struck. Other forms of aid could be delayed, diverted or manipulated by the Burmese government--but the monks are the most trusted and reliable institution in the country.