Myanmar residents watch a helicopter land to provide relief goods at Bogalay, Myanmar.

Myanmar Blasted for Preventing Relief

May 09, 2008 12:29 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
by findingDulcinea staff
The delays in getting foreign aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis exemplify the frequent difficulties faced by countries attempting to provide relief to disaster-stricken areas.

30-Second Summary

The international community is growing more and more critical of Myanmar’s leaders as it struggles to care for the estimated 1 million homeless people waiting for food, medicine and shelter in the wake of last week’s devastating cyclone.

“The frustration caused by what appears to be a paperwork delay is unprecedented in modern humanitarian relief efforts,” said UN World Food Program spokesman Paul Risley to the Associated Press. “It’s astonishing.”

The agency announced that it is suspending its aid due to supplies being seized by the Myanmar government, which issued a statement Friday that it preferred to receive supplies rather than help from foreign personnel.

As of Friday, at least 62,000 people were reported dead or missing in Myanmar, and the U.N. has estimated that a total of 1.5 million people have been “severely affected” by the cyclone so far.

The United States is among the nations that have expressed anger at Myanmar’s leaders. “We’re outraged by the slowness of the response of the government of Burma (Myanmar) to welcome and accept assistance,” said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad.

In 2005, the United States was criticized for mismanagement after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and many blasted President George W. Bush in particular for his fumbling response to the event.

But it seems that in the wake of a natural disaster, fingers point in all directions. FEMA and state and local officials all received blame for mishandling the Hurricane Katrina response. And after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross issued a report criticizing international aid agencies for letting rivalry and poor communication hamper relief efforts.

Headline Links: ‘UN halts aid to Myanmar after junta seizes supplies’

Background: Myanmar cyclone death toll more than 22,000

Related Topics: President Bush and Katrina; the Asian tsunami

Reference: Natural Disasters


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