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The True Disaster Of Myanmar

By: Donna Chaffins | Date: May 10, 2008 | Categories: In The News

I feel so helpless as I watch the images, read, and hear the news of the devastation left behind by the cyclone that hit Myanmar a week ago.  However, I am not the only one feeling helpless along with frustration at a government that refuses aid for its country.

Myanmar, also known as Burma (which is the name I am familiar with), is bordered by China on the north, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, and India on the northwest.  It is reported that more than 20,000 people are dead and more than 40,000 still missing with tens of thousands more left homeless in the secretive military-run country, which is home to one of the world's worst health systems.

The most important thing now is a fight against disease.  Reports of diarrhea, malaria and skin problems have already surfaced, and health officials fear waterborne illnesses will emerge due to a lack of clean water, along with highly contagious diseases such as measles that are easily spread.  You have all these people homeless and exposed to the elements.  They are vulnerable with contaminated water and Myanmar had a large population of people in poor health prior to the Cyclone Nargis.

When Cyclone Nargis touched land in the densely populated, rice-farming delta of the Irrawaddy Division it hit with winds up to 150 mph. in the secretive military-run country.  To give you an idea of what living in Myanmar is like, about 90 percent of the population lives on just $1 a day. Millions also go hungry, with a third of Myanmar's children estimated to be malnourished, according to the International Herald. 

Where the true disaster lies in my opinion is with the Myanmar's isolationist regime complicating recovery efforts by delaying the entry of United Nations planes delivering medicine, food, and other supplies into the Southeast Asian nation. Similarly, the junta continues to reject the United States offer to provide much-needed assistance. The government has failed to permit entry for large-scale international relief efforts, described by the United Nations as "unprecedented".  Burmese Foreign Ministry stressed its capability in handling the aftermath of the cyclone and insisted that it was not ready to accept large-scale foreign assistance, according to Wikipedia.  If you want to learn more about Myanmar check out Wikipedia and you can also check here.

I will continue to pray for the people affected by Cyclone Nargis and hope that they are able to get the aid that is readily available to them.  If you have any thoughts concerning Myanmar or Cyclone Nargis, we would love to hear them.  Hope to hear from you!

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