Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Myanmar After The Storm: Part 5

It's time to put the needs of the people first.

Ever since Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on May 3rd and decimated the population of the Ayeyarwaddy River Delta, the international community has been trying to help the cyclone victims.

And in the aftermath of the storm, the military junta in control of that unfortunate country has responded:
Meanwhile, heavy rain is continuing to soak the already-saturated delta and another cyclone may be forming in the region.

The United Nations, in order to avert what it is describing as a "second catastrophe", is calling for an air and sea corridor to funnel supplies and personnel directly into the stricken region. France, Britain and Germany have gone even further.

These three countries plan to propose to the Security Council that the UN invoke its humanitarian 'responsibility to protect' and deliver assistance to the storm victims without the agreement or cooperation of the Myanmar government. Not all EU countries approve of this approach, and there is no indication when France, Britain and Germany plan to make this proposal – or whether China and Russia, who are both against the idea, would veto such action.

As aid shipments pile up waiting for clearance to enter Myanmar via Yangon Airport, as aid workers sit impatiently on the sidelines waiting for permission to enter the disaster areas, and as Myanmar's senior general, Than Shwe, dodges telephone calls from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, people are dying needlessly.

France, Britain and Germany have it right. Protecting the lives and health of the Myanmar people is far more important than protecting the national sovereignty of Myanmar's military regime.

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