May 18th, 2008
Our Team at Project Enlighten is happy to report that today, the first $4000US in emergency relief supplies are being distributed to a few of the 2.5 million people left clinging to survival by the devastation of Cyclone Nargis. This cyclone flooded an area of the Burma delta region the size of Austria.
The transport was loaded at the border, and then again in Rangoon, Burma, with supplies funded by Project Enlighten, The Rescue Task Force and a local monk’s organization.
ABITSU, the Burmese organization here, organized all ground operations into Burma’s delta region. Only Burmese can gain access into the military blocked delta areas.
It is only a minute fraction of the massive amount of relief that is needed for this area, but any relief which will save the lives of some is worth the effort. Project Enlighten is asking for your donations to fund more of these trucks of emergency supplies into the delta.
The official death toll reported Friday from the disaster now sits at 77,738 dead and 55,917 missing but most experts say the figure is likely to be far higher. The Red Cross says the cyclone may have killed 128,000.
This natural disaster has now turned into a man-made disaster due to the military junta’s refusal in allowing foreign aid into the delta region.
US, British and French warships loaded with helicopters, ambulances, small watercraft and emergency supplies sit waiting in international waters 30 minutes off the delta coast. They will sit there until permission is granted to enter. So far the Burmese military has said no.
A total of only 20 US cargo flights filled with emergency aid have been allowed to land at Rangoon airport. 24 such cargo flights PER DAY are what are required. There have been reports of many of these aid supplies being sold to civilians at high prices in Rangoon and used for the military’s own use as well.
General Than Shwe, the ruling general of Burma, is now accused of committing crimes against humanity. There are reports of forced labor and low food supplies at the state run refugee centres. I spoke with a reporter yesterday who provided me with a contact number to report any first-hand accounts of human rights abuses to Amnesty International.
In the past few days torrential tropical downpours have lashed Burma’s cyclone hit Irrawaddy delta. Thousands of destitute victims go to the roadsides begging for help to supplement the meager trickle of aid flowing in. Over 30,000 children were already suffering from malnutrition before the disaster.
Many cylone victims have come down with diarrhea, dysentery and skin infections. Dangers of outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever and malaria are escalating.
Last week, China immediately opened its doors to the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from around the world to those affected by the devastating earthquake. Until the ruling military in Burma does likewise, many will die from starvation and disease.
This afternoon UK Minister Lord Malloch-Brown announced from Rangoon, that a possible comprimise has been struck that the "Burmese can work with", whereas world relief donations could be directed into Burma through neighboring countries.
By making a donation to ‘Project Enlighten’s Burma Cyclone Emergency Relief Fund’, www.projectenlighten.com , you help supply emergency aid that is taken to the delta area.
Every hour counts!
Lisa McCoy, Project Enlighten Team Member, Mae Sot, Thailand