Friday, May 16, 2008

It Has Begun: Cholera in Burma / Myanmar

Things are very bad in the Irrawaddy Delta, where Cyclone Nargis has killed tens of thousands. Over a hundred thousand may die soon, if food and medical supplies - and aid workers to deliver them - are either allowed, or dropped, into the region.

Leaders have a very short time in which to act.

Crisis in the Irrawaddy

"Burma raises official cyclone death toll to 78,000"
The Guardian (UK) (May 16, 2008)

Includes video (1:25) " 'I felt like I was being watched' "
The Guardian (UK) (May 16, 2008)

"Guardian journalist Helen Pidd reports from neighbouring Thailand after spending a week in Burma seeing first-hand the extent of the damage caused by Cyclone Nargis"

One of the important points here is Pidd's description of what journalists have to do in Burma / Myanmar - and what everyday life is like there.

The article has at least two gems:

"Outbreaks of potentially life-threatening cholera have been confirmed among the survivors, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today. But officials said the number of cases was in line with previous years, suggesting there may not be an epidemic of the waterborne disease, as aid agencies had feared."

"The Burmese prime minister, Thein Sein, was reported on state television saying the emergency phase of the cyclone disaster was over and that the country was now in the rebuilding phase. The UN said this was nonsense, and that there was still a critical need for far more aid. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has not even been able to talk to Senior General Than Shwe, Burma's military dictator, on the phone." [emphasis mine]

I discuss a possible, although radical, solution to the humanitarian disaster in the Irrawaddy in a previous post: "People May be Dying Soon in Burma - There's a Solution."

A very similar idea is discussed in " 'This is a Good Day to Argue for Humanitarian Intervention' " The Irrawaddy (May 15, 2008).

Remember the Irrawaddy

Cyclone Nargis blew down buildings, killed people, and knocked out vital support systems.

But it was the junta in Burma / Myanmar that refused to let aid in, refused to let aid workers in, apparently switched useful food for low-nutrition junk, and continues to get in the way of people who are trying to save the lives of its subjects.

This is how despots work. They like being in charge, and don't like having anyone running loose who might see what they've done to the country.

Despots aren't good for their citizens.

The next time America is involved in removing a tyrannical regime, and a fuss is being raised, it would be well to remember the Irrawaddy.

2 comments:

American Interests.blog said...

Good posting! When will the time come to act with force...force for humanitarian needs...I am sure the situation is both desparate and extreme.

Two links for you:

http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2008/05/Reader-riposte-Air-drops-in-Burma.aspx

http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2008/05/Would-it-be-right-to-bomb-Burma.aspx

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

American Interests.blog,

Thank you for the comment.

Sorry about the delay, responding. I've been away from the Internet since early Saturday (postings on another blog were prepared earlier, posted automatically).

Here are those links, now live:

www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2008/05/Reader-riposte-Air-drops-in-Burma.aspx
www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2008/05/Would-it-be-right-to-bomb-Burma.aspx

I expect to be back to this topic, when I've caught up with a few other items.

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