Myanmar’s devastating storms
I’ve been watching the news about Myanmar peripherally since the storm hit. The country is controlled by a military junta (apparently, I’m not going to pretend I knew anything about Myanmar before this happened) which doesn’t want to let in aid workers who might secretly be plotting to overthrow them one way or another. So planes have landed in Myanmar, filled with supplies but the aid organizations and countries don’t want to just leave the aid there, in the hands of a corrupt government that doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about the welfare of the country’s people relative to the possibility that they might lose power by letting foreign aid workers onto their soil.
What I don’t understand about this is why they don’t try alternative means, why they haven’t already, to get aid to these people. Aid workers have specialized training, but it looks like many of Myanmar’s people are without food or even fuel to cremate the bodies of the dead, and in unsanitary, unsettled conditions like this disease is likely to spread. Why aren’t airdrops done, all over the populated areas? With a little work they could even probably provide instructions on how to use specialized equipment or how to provide medical aid through either audio recordings or writing or some other primitive means of communication (pictures?). Instead they wait, while the death toll continues to go up. I know that governments control their airspace, but this is pretty much a win-win for the junta because it will help the people and keep unrest down, while keeping out any possible “spies” or soldiers. This is at least a lesser step than forcibly entering the country to provide aid under a new U.N. policy:
If Myanmar’s leaders won’t risk losing face by accepting help, people will begin dying in droves from exposure, hunger and disease. The United Nations should step in. France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, has called upon the U.N. to use its newly approved “responsibility to protect civilians” policy to enter Myanmar and deliver aid over the objections of the generals. This would be a dangerous, perhaps precedent-setting course, but the world’s nations should consider it.
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