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Disaster strikes

Disaster strikes
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First Published: Wed, May 07 2008. 11 15 PM IST

Updated: Wed, May 07 2008. 11 15 PM IST
No famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy,” Amartya Sen once wrote. This, argued the Nobel Prize-winning economist, was because democratically elected governments “have to win elections and face public criticism”. Mr Sen’s words have a grim resonance as Burma faces a humanitarian disaster exacerbated by its lack of openness… Even without the dictatorship’s downplaying, assessing the damage wreaked by last weekend’s storm was always going to be tough: power and communications are out across swaths of the country… By neglecting the basic human needs of its people, the regime has made it far harder for Burma to recover from Nargis... Even as the country was racked by this storm, the junta pressed ahead with preparations for next weekend’s referendum on a new constitution...
The Guardian
Disaster in Myanmar
By all accounts, Cyclone Nargis has devastated Myanmar—a 12-foot wall of water sweeping away entire villages, leaving the coastal plain under water, thousands dead, missing or homeless and much of the capital city of Yangon without electricity or water… We wish we could also say that this is no time for politics, but that simply would not be true. Myanmar—the name the junta gave to Burma—has been ruled by military dictatorship for 46 years, increasingly isolated and struggling under economic sanctions by the United States and Europe. Last September, the junta crushed peaceful protest marches by Buddhist monks.
These repressive policies contributed greatly to the the disaster... Helping the people is the immediate task. In time, the world can redouble its effort to free Myanmar from the great disaster of the junta itself.
The New York Times
Hope from Burma’s disaster?
Could the recent powerful cyclone be enough to shake the military government off its perch? The recent natural disaster has done much damage to Burma with the powerful cyclone last Friday killing a huge number of people. It also affected well over two million families who were left homeless and without drinking water… It is important that the international community put aside its partisan policies temporarily and swiftly provide all humanitarian assistance that is needed to relieve the problems of food shortages, sanitation and other urgent needs. It is a tall order…
Now the onus rests on the Burmese junta leaders, who have been isolated from the rest of the world since 1988, to announce their course of action. The question is being asked as always: Will they allow foreign aid packages to enter the country fast enough?...
The Nation
Calamity in Myanmar
Urgent steps are required to contain the aftermath of Myanmar’s deadly cyclone that has taken approximately thousands of lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless and in desperate need for essentials like food and drinking water… The ruling military junta’s reluctance in openly asking for help comes as no surprise. Years of the army’s brutal hold on power has betrayed little concern for the people’s welfare at large, making it possible for them to digest the hurricane as just another episode of people’s suffering, though one where the natural-disaster-effect and magnitude of suffering raised more international concern than the routine torment...
Immediately, it is for countries in Myanmar’s neighbourhood, particularly India and China, to make unconditional offers of help for the badly hit people, sidestepping political reservations in favour of the greater human good...
Khaleej Times
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First Published: Wed, May 07 2008. 11 15 PM IST
More Topics: Myanmar | Tragedy | Disaster | Burma | Amartya Sen |