BURMA is the small country situated in South East Asia, and it is sandwich between China and India. The country is blessed with rich natural resources including Oil & Gas, However 45 years of mismanagement by the Military Junta Government, the Burma is listed as the one of the most poorest countries on this earth.

On 2nd May 2008, Burma was hit by deadly Cyclone “Nargis” unknown and unprepared, not because of lack of information and poor, it’s because of the negligence of the ruler Military Junta. As a result more than 220,000 people dead (as of today) and more than 1.5 million people are homeless and will die IF the relief agencies do not reach to them in time. And yet the most brutal Military Junta the world has ever seen has STALLING both local and international assistance to the victims for their own interest.

Even before the deadly cyclone “Nargis” smashed into Burma and brought down the already shabby nation to its knees, the foundation of the Burma’s mighty military Junta suffered a serious blow last September. During the monks’ uprising, a Burmese diplomat privately expressed his sympathy for the monks uprising and his worries about the affect of western sanctions on his family. He did not approve of the killing of the monks and he was unhappy to be identified with the generals who had ordered the killing.

The vital reasons for the hardliner-generals furiously pushing through constitutional referendum are: the generals are not worrying about what the world or the political opposition may think. The generals with the blood of monks’ on their hands are now desperately trying to protect themselves from the rest of the army who were not involved in killing of the monks. Constitutional referendum is their last ditch attempt to protect themselves from future prosecution and to ensure their own safety from those who did not commit the crimes. However, despite the existence of such resentment the army will remain intact, for it is a close-knit organization where members need each other for over all survival. But the generals with bad conscience want to put the constitutional vote, more than the catastrophic Cyclone Nargis, safely behind. To ensure victory at the voting booth the junta has been trying to beat their opponents into submission. But the fate of the military junta no longer rests with the opposition, international critics, or even the constitutional referendum. After the deadly Cyclone Nargis, the future of the generals and the future of Burma are now hanging by a thread. No one, but the generals in Naypyidaw is being fooled into believing that they are still in complete control of the storm ravaged country.

The might of the military as a capable and responsible government is diminishing by the minute, as storm victims are continuing to die in the second phase of Cyclone Nargis. Unlike last September or China’s crackdown in Tibet; one hundred thousand rotting corpses in Irrawaddy delta are hard even for the junta to completely cover up. And it is provoking bitter hatred from all over Burma and the world, against the inhumane government.

The reports of the 2004 tsunami stress the responsibility and accountability of the native and foreign humanitarian actors. As the Burmese junta cannot be trusted to act responsibly or with transparent accountability, most reliable aid donors will decline to hand over the aid supplies and cash donations directly to the military. Instead, lessons from the past tsunami recommend involvement of aid recipients in delivering and making decisions by putting aid workers in direct contact with the receivers.

The “Joint evaluation of the international response to the Indian Ocean tsunami”, published on January 2007, revealed that no community or nation has a full set of resources to meet all possible catastrophic emergencies from within their own capacities. Humanitarian emergencies in general are events that overwhelm the immediate local capacity and demand external help. The report stressed that communities
may need to call for assistance from the provincial capacities; provinces from national capacities; and nations from international capacities.

Nothing like the present situation in Burma, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, native volunteers in India, Thailand, and Indonesia, and government official teams with the national military, played a key role in the early rescue and relief work. Similar to the Irrawaddy Delta area, the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia killed many local officials; and the military, especially naval units were destroyed, along with government offices and transport infrastructure and the local people before the government responded to the storm. Mobile phone systems and telephone cables were destroyed making communication impossible for local officials in Aceh to get a view of the true scale of the problem and to coordinate relief efforts at the beginning.

Major roads as well as key bridges and main seaports along the coasts of Sri Lanka and Aceh were destroyed. The main airport at Aceh was unusable from flooding. It was up to 10 days before the most isolated groups got outside help from lack of access even after the international militaries coordinated successfully with
national military capacities during 2004 tsunami.

The influx of international experts with huge resources brought much-needed help. International aid both replaced some local resources which the early relief effort had exhausted, and provided new resources which were either not available locally or available in very limited quantities, according to the 2004 tsunami report.

The 2004 tsunami evaluation defined the ‘capacity’ as multi-faceted, and an effective response calls for interventions from a wide range of actors each of which may bring particular capacities. While the affected population can bring their knowledge of the context to the response; international agencies can bring their specialist medical or relief skills; the international military can bring their logistics capacity. Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council:Victor D. Cha, in Washington wrote that within 48 hours of the 2004 tsunami.

The United States had enlisted Australia, India, and Japan and organized the largest emergency relief mission in modern history. It sent over 16,000 U.S. military personnel, two dozen ships, and 100 aircraft as part of its immediate $346 million relief package, followed by an additional U.S. commitment of $600 million. This rapid response gave UN agencies both the time and the infrastructure they needed to mobilize and get on the ground. No other nation, and no international organization, could have coordinated such a response. In comparison Beijing’s response to the tsunami which killed 280,000 people and displaced over 1.8 million was slow, feeble, and parochial.

John Cosgrave explained that ‘capacity’ refers not only to resources, skills and knowledge but also to the ability to influence and control policies and actions. During the 2004 tsunami similar to Cyclone Nargis, the huge needs for relief and recovery all clearly exceeded local capacity to provide them.

Another expert on Burma, Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins who has worked extensively in Burma viewed the country as particularly ill equipped to deal with a public health catastrophe. The United Nations World Food Program spokesman, Paul Risley also commented that Burma’s refusal to grant visas to foreign aid teams is “unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts”. Many in the worst-hit delta areas have no access to food, drinking water, or medical care and the risk for disease outbreak is increasing.

Major part of the delta has been flooded with salt water and CNN Correspondent Dan Rivers reported that the low-lying delta region, home to six million people is receiving no help from anyone, including government soldiers or aid agencies. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the junta to focus on mobilizing all available resources and capacity for the emergency response efforts instead of tomorrow’s referendum.

The United Nations has just reported that the Burmese government seized tons of aid material flown in to help victims of Cyclone Nargis; and the WFP had no choice but to halt aid until the matter is resolved. As the Burmese junta continues to deny several of the world disaster assessment experts’ entry; a former under secretary for humanitarian affairs of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami lamented that, “We have now lost five or six days because of the government’s intransigence,” even though plane loads of supplies, and military forces from 12 countries were ready to go in to help the disaster victims in Burma.

The call to force humanitarian aid into Burma will get louder by the hour as the military government carts away supplies, cash, and emergency aid without allowing the entry of aid workers.

And United Nation and the World Community has yet to FAILED again to keep their promises which known as “Responsibility to Protect” of the UN charter.

Please also read this article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/11/AR2008051101782.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns  “In Burma, a U.N. Promise Not Kept”

The death toll in the mean time continues to climb above the estimated 220,000 and yet millions of survivors are dying on “Burma junta’s clock.”


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