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The state of Burma has been sad, infuriating and mind boggling. But finally, 5 weeks after Cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta, the country’s leaders have granted admission to foreign relief groups.
Fearing a hidden “Western agenda”, they’d only accepted funds and supplies, while rejecting aid workers, and the use of foreign military and UN civilian helicopters. Only now has Burma’s leader, Gen. Than Shwe, told visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday that he would be more flexible on access.
The UN estimates that up to 2.4 million Burmese need emergency assistance–nearly 80,000 people are said to have died; 56,000 are counted as missing.
Calls on China and other Asian allies to pressure the junta to allow for aid have gone unheeded, with China insisting that Burmese sovereignty must be respected above all. That sovereignty expressed itself in the junta extending house arrest for Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, quickly passing a new constitution, and police arresting droves of the newly homeless.
ADB has a direct connect with some monks in Burma (who tend to do some of the best relief work). Monks have been providing aid to victims, reaching 300 villages with supplies and turning his monestary into a refugee center. They’re looking to buy more generators and water purifiers so help them out by donating here.
ADB may be turning out some monks here in the states for a benefit event too… keep an eye out for red robes.