IN OTHER WORDS: More misery
There is no end to the criminal behaviour of Myanmar’s generals. Nearly three weeks after Cyclone Nargis killed more than 100,000 people, the junta’s refusal to open the country to international help is condemning many more thousands to malnutrition, disease and, unless something is done quickly, death. The generals have now grudgingly agreed to allow their Asian neighbors to oversee distribution of foreign relief and granted the UN World Food Programme permission to fly nine helicopters. Given the horrifying size of the disaster, that’s not enough.
Most international disaster specialists are still banned from the storm-devastated area. So, largely, are the US and France, which have ships loaded with heavy-lift helicopters, food, water, medicine, field hospitals and other supplies waiting. The generals are similarly determined to subvert a donors conference set for this weekend in Yangon. State-run media claimed that the government has met victims’ immediate needs and would be moving into the reconstruction. Diplomats who attend the conference must make clear that until the junta opens up the country to a full relief effort, there will be no reconstruction help — even after that, any rebuilding projects must be controlled by international organisations not the corrupt regime.