Thursday, 8 May 2008

Cyclone devastates Burma – help urgently needed

Lives and homes lost in Myanmar (Burma) cyclone. Only the roofs stand about the water in flooded villages around Rangoon.

Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar (Burma) in the early hours of Saturday 3rd May. Aid workers fear Burma cyclone deaths eastimates have been going up from 350 to 22,000 to 50,000 and may top 100,000, not a good sign. Also over one million people displaced from their homes in the worst-affected regions.

Help is needed urgently. Immediate needs are for shelter, clean water, food, and health care. In the cyclone-hit areas, communications are down and roads have been washed away, making it difficult to reach those who most need help.

How your donations will be used. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), of which Oxfam is a member, is co-coordinating an emergency appeal to fund work across the region - providing cash support, technical expertise, and vital equipment.

Your donation will support these efforts and will allow DEC members, in conjunction with the UN and other agencies to respond to immediate needs, as well as help people as they recover from the cyclone. The DEC urgently need funds to be able to meet this challenge.

You can donate by telephone please call Oxfam on: 0300 200 1999, or the DEC direct on: 0870 60 60 900.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation of 13 humanitarian aid agencies. At times of overseas emergency, the DEC brings together a unique alliance of UK aid, corporate, public and broadcasting sectors to rally the nation's compassion, and to ensure that funds raised are used in the most appropriate and effective way to deliver relief to people who are most in need.

In a move designed o aggrevate the situation UK politicians have started blaming the Burma authorities for making the situation worse. They may have a point about the regime being slow, but this is not the way to improve the situation. After a disaster like this its time to drop the antagonism and point scoring.

Lib Dems have been discussing dropping food aid without permission, which may result in planes being shot at. Foreign Secretary David Miliband accused the military junta of "malign neglect" and said he would be "amazed" if the death toll was under 100,000. Miliband should loose his job for this, he may well have caused the death of many people if Burma listen to him and shut the door to foriegn aid. The time to speak out was during the protests last September, just for now lets focus on cooperation.

Now Cameron is also suggesting dropping aid without permision, as are some in the USA. It would be a huge waste of effort, as well as antagonising the regime, much of it would fall into water or unaccessible terrain. Cameron and Clegg should know better. Aid Agencies will have to work with the Burmese authorities whether they like it or not.

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