Many Cyclone Victims Forced to Leave Shelters
The first shipment of emergency relief aid, towards which ‘Project Enlighten’ contributed $4000US, reached many destitute and hungry cyclone victims in the districts of Laputta, Twantay, and Kongyangone. Watch a video of the loading of these supplies at: http://video.google.com/
Laputta is a low-lying western delta region that took the brunt of Cyclone Nargis a month ago. Posted now on the blog, you’ll see photos of two centres in Lapputta, where aid was distributed nearly 2 weeks ago.
The first shipment, totaling approximately $12,000US in aid, brought relief supplies to over 5,000 people. Fifty tents, each housing a family of four, were included. Eighty large bags of rice and water were purchased by ABITSU Burmese volunteers in Rangoon, and then all the supplies bought here in Mae Sot and in Rangoon were divided and loaded into smaller trucks and boats, and headed for the delta. I have about 500 photos that were taken of that first shipment!
Over the past few days, tragic news is emerging from Burma- The UN has reported that Burma’s military government if forcing cyclone victims out of the refugee camps and dumping them near their devastated villages with basically nothing!
Centralizing victims in camps, centres and churches has made it easier for aid agencies to deliver emergency supplies.
400 cyclone victims from Laputta district, housed in a Baptist Missions Church in Rangoon, were all evicted by the authorities on Thursday and taken back to their villages! They have lost families, homes and in most cases – their villages! These homeless cyclone victims are scared, sad and helpless.
Eight government camps in Bogolay district have been cleared out by the military, and the clear-outs are continuing. Some were given meager rations before they were moved, but if they had lost their identity card, they were given nothing.
Aid workers which have reached some of the remote villages say little is left there to sustain them and certainly no medicine. Military officials have told them that they can eat frogs. Thousands of corpses still litter the fields and waterways!
The military has told aid workers not to give anything to the thousands lining the roads seeking aid, saying, “…donations will spoil their appetite for hard work.”
The UN has sharply criticized this action. Terje Skovdal, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs stated, “People need to be assisted in the settlements and satisfactory conditions need to be created before the can return to their places of origins.” “Any forced or coerced movement of people is unacceptable.”
It is imperative that these victims be reached now more than ever. ‘Project Enlighten’s’ second $4000 of aid is in Burma now being distributed by Burmese volunteers that can gain access to the devastated areas. We ask that you please send ANY DONATION that you can – it all adds up! If you can’t afford to give, but want to help, then consider holding a small community fundraiser such as a garage sale, a pledged walk, or a penny campaign.
The BBC reported yesterday that the death toll is likely over 130,000. Of the 2.5 million in need of aid, only 1 in 2 has received anything at all.
All foreign aid workers are still experiencing bureaucratic hindrance in obtaining visas and gaining access to the delta region. 46 vehicles and cars of aid were impounded last Sunday night as they were making aid trips out of Rangoon. I had wanted to go into Burma to help, but that possibility is out of the question at present. If I did obtain a visa, I would not be allowed out of Rangoon.
Journalists have been banned from Burma. One BBC reporter was deported. I receive many disturbing photos from inside Burma which can be obtained by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . No words can express the dire conditions and paramount needs of the hundreds of thousands within Burma.