I know there is a lot of effort going into relief efforts to help people affected by the Sichuan earthquake. It’s true that the quake is very awful. But don’t forget Myanmar (Burma)!
According to yesterday’s Al Jazeera English, there are currently 134,000 people dead or missing in the Irawaddy Delta. But many more remain at risk. There are 2.4 million who remain homeless and hungry. The government of that country promised to let aid workers in, but they are largely confining them to Yangon. (Doctors Without Borders reports that 14 staff have been allowed into the Delta, but compare this number of people to the need: 2.4 million people.)
On the other hand, the government is more receptive to allowing Myanmar citizens into the area. Some of the relief agencies are therefore training local citizens and letting them go into the area. For instance, I read that Red Cross is training people on how to use water purification systems and then letting the local people deliver the systems.
As a matter of fact, private citizens are the ones who have taken the lead in delivering supplies. They simply load cars full of supplies and drive south; but they run out long before they reach remote hamlets. (Bear in mind that there are few roads and most of them are dirt.) According to the U.N., up to half the 2.4 million people left in need of food, medicine, and shelter have yet to receive any assistance at all. Three, going on four, weeks is a long time to go without food.
In an earlier Blog entry I listed organizations which are able to get relief supplies into the country. Pick a card, any card!
See generally, "Myanmar Opens Up to U.N. Aid Workers" 29 May 2008.