The Myanmar government refuses to let foreign aid workers into the country to help distribute aid to the roughly 1.5 million people who have been cut off from food and clean water. The government claims that they themselves can provide the logistics necessary to distribute this aid.
Most countries have either refused or deferred aid unless foreign relief teams can participate in the distribution, out of fear that the aid will not get to those who need it. At least some of what has been distributed was painted over with the names of the generals in charge.
Our government sits with $3 million in aid offered, Australia with $23.4 million, the French with 1500 metric tons of food in a vessel in Myanmar’s waters. We and other governments play the waiting game with the Myanmar government; and the generals appear to be digging in their heels.
In the meantime, 8 days have now gone by since the typhoon hit, and 1.5 million people are still cut off from food and clean water.
In eight more days, the number of deaths from political stalemate will far exceed the carnage caused by the typhoon. I don’t get this at all, and I don’t understand how seeing who blinks first is going to make the world a better place.
If the world’s intention is humanitarian aid, then why not fly in as much as possible to Yangon – inundate the airport with food and supplies – and let the Myanmar military do as much as they can with it? Even with all the suspected corruption and expected diversion of aid, at least some of those 1.5 million might live to next week. So what if the generals want to take credit? Unless, of course, further isolating a junta that’s been in control for 46 years is more important than the plight of those 1.5 million.
Senator John Kerry said, “The only goal right now should be getting help to the people of Burma, however we need to do it.” I couldn’t agree more.