Thursday, May 15, 2008

Large-scale relief efforts are needed immediately. Hunger and infections quickly follow a disaster. Sichuan is better off, with the Chinese authorities making public the damage and announcing relief activities. China's mature attitude in initiating prompt emergency operations under the premier's leadership and its willingness to accept support from the international community is unprecedented. But Burma is in real trouble. The world community's warning that if no relief efforts are taken immediately then even the survivors may lose their lives is absolutely not an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, the Burmese junta is reluctant to accept international support and is severely restricting the entry of relief workers, taking only goods and cash. In the wake of the disaster the Burmese government asked three organizations -- World Vision, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and UNICEF -- for aid. World Vision, proclaiming the Burmese disaster as category three, the top level, called up relief cadres from around the world, including me, to head to Burma on a top priority basis, with a target of relieving 500,000 people. Of the 30-odd relief personnel waiting for entry visas, only two have received them.

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