Myanmar fails its people
Posted May 16, 2008

The current crisis caused by the May 3 cyclone in Myanmar is continuing to leave citizens without aid, even though international organizations have been trying to help. Cyclone Nargis is estimated to have killed somewhere between 63,000 and 100,000 people. The government has yet to clear many of the dead bodies that are currently tainting the country’s water supply. Citizens in the poorest part of the nation have been trying to pump water from ponds that are still filled with corpses. Drinking this water has led to even more illnesses and deaths.

Oxfam, an international aid agency, says that without adequate relief more than 1.5 million people will be affected. It would seem that no one has been stepping up to help this ravaged country. However, the opposite is true—many countries around the world have conducted fundraisers and gathered supplies to help the people in Myanmar. The problem is that the Myanmar government has only just begun to allow limited aid to reach the people who so desperately need it.

Nearly a week after the devastating cyclone occurred, United States aircrafts are just now being allowed to enter the country. One of the planes recently arrived in Myanmar with 28,000 pounds of supplies including water, mosquito nets and blankets. If other forces had been permitted to enter the country earlier, who knows how many more lives would have been saved? More planes are expected to arrive, and the United States government has announced that America will be donating nearly $16.25 million in aid. But many question whether the Myanmar government’s suspicion of Western countries will result in decreased help for the victims of the cyclone. Many more rural villages are in need because aid has yet to reach them.

The disgusting conditions of many Myanmar villages speak of the distressing need of aid. A refugee camp in Pyanpon services 3,500 people with only five latrines. If the Myanmar government wants help for its people who are living in squalor, they should be willing to accept the millions of dollars and supplies that have been willingly donated to the country’s aid efforts. Any country should be able to exist with the peace of mind that if disaster strikes, they will be able to rely on other countries to help them get back on their feet.

However, with some governments in charge, aid will not get to the people who need it.

The people of Myanmar deserve the care that we would provide our own citizens. We are trying to donate the money and supplies to help the victims of the cyclone, but if we are not allowed access to the country, there is nothing we can do. The government should be willing to set aside their negative opinions of the United States, and other countries, in order to save the lives of its people. In the end, it will be the government who is left responsible for its own. If aid is still denied, the world will know that other countries did everything they could to assist the people of Myanmar.

It is too bad the government cannot say the same.

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