Saturday, May 10, 2008

Video: Questions About Aid Plague Myanmar Cyclone

FACTBOX: More than $50 million in aid for Myanmar

(Reuters) - The United Nations food agency suspended aid flights to cyclone-struck Myanmar on Friday after the military government seized two deliveries at Yangon airport, apparently determined to distribute supplies on its own.

Governments and relief agencies around the world have promised about $57 million worth of aid and technical support to Myanmar in the days after Cyclone Nargis ripped through the Irrawaddy Delta leaving up to 100,000 people feared dead.

The following includes some of the aid offers to date:
UNITED NATIONS: $10 million from Central Emergency Relief Fund; and "flash appeal" to raise more money from Friday. Five-member U.N. Disaster Assessment and Coordination team ready in Bangkok. UNICEF assessment teams in 3 of 5 disaster areas.

RED CROSS: About 200,000 Swiss francs ($189,000).
-- Myanmar Red Cross: Distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and water purification tablets. Government to give 5 billion kyats ($4.5 million) for relief and resettlement.
-- American Red Cross: $100,000 in funds and supplies.

WORLD VISION, AUSTRALIA: A$3 million ($2.8 million). About 25 medical/other specialists to boost 600 permanent staff in Myanmar.

ICRC sends 1st aid flight for Myanmar cyclone victims, official says

GENEVA: The international Red Cross has sent its first flight to Myanmar to provide aid for thousands of prisoners affected by the cyclone, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has begun sending trucks with supplies into the country from neighboring Thailand, officials said Saturday.

Read More: here

Slow Myanmar aid raises health risks for survivors

MYAUNG MYA, Myanmar, May 10 (Reuters) - Even if they manage to find food and shelter, the 1.5 million destitute survivors of Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis still face a major risk from infected wounds, chronic diarrhoea and malaria or dengue.In Labutta, one of the worst-hit Irrawaddy delta towns, a third of patients had laceration wounds on their backs from the stinging rain and debris whipped up by winds of 190 km (120 miles) per hour, a Burmese doctor told Reuters.He said sepsis, a rampant infection of the bloodstream that causes organ failure, was widespread two days after the former Burma's worst natural disaster in recent memory.

Read More : here

SPDC’d be ready to shoot down humanitarian aircrafts

SPDC has prepared to shoot down any foreign air planes that would carry the humanitarian aids if needed. Witness said seventeen military trucks with towing anti-aircraft guns towards Payagyi, Pegu division.
Many diplomats who also follow the developments of post cyclone and other international media confirmed that the international aids were suspended because of their intelligence report. There must be flying into Burma airspace if approved by the regime.Regime's hostile attitude was marked by the respective governments and they shocked this news and unbelievable about SPDC is ready to shoot down humanitarian airlift.
A reporter from famous radio program had shook her head after she learned this news and thought that top generals have no hearts.Foreign aid workers prayed for entering Burma and help people after referendum day. Thai relief aids that carried with two trucks were allowed today to Myawaddy almost one week of negotiation with UNHCR and SPDC.

Panasonic offers donations to Cyclone-affected Myanmar

TOKYO, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Panasonic, a famous Japanese electronic brand, said late Friday that the company will offer 10 million yen (100,000 U.S. dollars) in aid to Myanmar's cyclone-striken areas.

In a news release, the company said that the money aims to support the recovery efforts in areas affected by Cyclone Nargis that struck Southern Myanmar, including Yangon, on May 2.
Panasonic, the leading brand for which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. is best known, expressed, on behalf of its employees, deep compassion for victims of the cyclone and hope for a swift recovery from the disaster.

Chevron to give $2 million to help Myanmar cyclone victims

Chevron Corp. says it will give $2 million to help victims of the devastating cyclone in Myanmar, where the oil company owns a natural gas pipeline.

The San Ramon-based energy giant says it will contribute $1 million to the International Federation of the Red Cross to deliver aid to the southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma.

Chevron will give another $1 million to be divided among the International Organization for Migration, Mercy Corps, Pact and Save the Children.
Officials estimate that more than 100,000 have died since Cyclone Nargis struck a week ago.
Chevron has been criticized for doing business in Myanmar because the country is ruled by a military junta with a poor human rights record.

Thai envoy to seek access for western aid groups

By Supalak Ganjanakhundee,Piyanart SrivaloThe NationPublished on May 10, 2008
Generals now 'too busy' to meet Samak
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will dispatch a special envoy to Burma today to attempt to convince the junta leaders to permit foreign relief teams, notably those from the United States and the United Kingdom, to help those hit by Cyclone Nargis.
The US and UK ambassadors to Thailand have asked the premier to assist.
Samak said earlier that he had contacted Burmese generals in the capital of Naypyitaw and would fly to see them tomorrow, but subsequent talks suggested that the junta's leaders were "too busy" to welcome the Thai leader.

Lt-General Niphat Thonglek, director of the Supreme Command's Boundary Affairs Department, and Thai Ambassador to Burma Bansarn Bunnag will instead carry a letter from Samak to Burma's Prime Minister Thein Sein.
The letter conveys condolence messages and concerns from Thai leaders to Burmese leaders and people, Niphat said. However, he declined to reveal further details, such as whether the letter also asked for permission from the junta for Western relief teams to enter the country.
The British ambassador to Thailand, Quinton Quayle, met Samak yesterday to discuss the possibility that Thailand could use its influence to convince Burmese leaders to open the country to Western assistance.

"In order for the international community to assist the Burmese people at this time of pressing need, the Burmese government should provide immediate visas to allow rapid access for specialists and aid to reach those affected as soon as possible," Quayle said.
The UK through its Department for International Development has made an initial pledge of up to ฃ5 million (Bt311 million) - the largest single contribution by any one country so far - to go to United Nations, Red Cross and NGO partners on the ground to help meet immediate needs.
The Burmese junta asked for humanitarian assistance to help millions of affected people after Cyclone Nargis hit the country last week, but has refused to grant visas for foreign relief teams.
US Ambassador to Thailand Eric John met Samak on Thursday to ask the premier to help facilitate Burmese visas for the US teams who are now waiting in Bangkok.

More than 65,000 people are dead or missing in the region, with fears the death toll will top 100,000. More than 1 million people have been left homeless.

The UN has blasted the military government, saying its refusal to let in foreign aid workers to help victims of a devastating cyclone was "unprecedented" in the history of humanitarian work.
The UN's World Food Programme, however, said it was able to begin delivery of food and plastic tarpaulins to cyclone-devastated areas in the Irrawaddy delta.

$3 Million Requested By UNFPA to Help Women and Girls Displaced By Myanmar Cyclone


Contact: In New York, Omar Gharzeddine, +1-212-297-5028,; In Bangkok, William A. Ryan, +66-89-897- 6984,, both of UNFPA
UNITED NATIONS,May9/PRNewswire-USNewswire/--UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is appealing for $3 million to address the urgent humanitarian concerns of cyclone-affected populations, particularly women and girls, in Myanmars Ayeyarwady and Yangon regions.

The amount is being sought as part of a joint flash appeal to be launched by the United Nations today. Tens of thousands of pregnant women made homeless by the cyclone urgently need lifesaving assistance. UNFPA is working with humanitarian partners to mobilize emergency reproductive health supplies, including safe delivery kits, for those affected.

Disasters like Cyclone Nargis put expectant mothers and their babies at special risk because of the sudden loss of medical support, compounded by trauma, malnutrition and disease. Among the estimated 1.5 million people severely affected by the storm, one in five women of childbearing age is likely to be pregnant; around 15 per cent of them will suffer from complications during labour.

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Teams from United Nations and non-governmental agencies are assessing the needs for food, water, sanitation, shelter and health among the displaced. As part of the coordinated international response, UNFPA will send supplies to make deliveries safer. These include individual kits containing a clean razor blade, a string for cutting and tying the umbilical cord, a plastic sheet, a bar of soap, and a blanket to keep the newborn warm. This would save infants and prevent life-threatening post-delivery infections in mothers who cannot reach a medical facility.
Medicines and equipment will also be sent to help health workers take care of women with complicated pregnancies. These include intravenous drip sets, antibiotics, painkillers, syringes, sterile gloves and small sterilizing machines.
In the emergency projects outlined in todays flash appeal, UNFPA will work with key United Nations organizations and local and international partners to:
-- Assist the Ministry of Health and other health partners to improve access to basic health services for displaced and host

-- Provide emergency reproductive health assistance - including
delivery and emergency obstetric care for pregnant women,
equipment to maintain a safe blood supply, and family planning;
-- Help prevent and respond to cases of sexual and gender-based
violence among the displaced; and
-- Safeguard the personal hygiene and dignity of displaced women,
girls, boys and men by providing them with essential hygiene
UNFPA is working closely with partners, including MERCY Malaysia, to provide additional support on the ground. The Fund is also working with the Myanmar Red Cross Society to establish services to meet the most basic reproductive health requirements, before comprehensive services can be provided when conditions permit it.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every

Burmese people demonstrated outsides Embassies in Malaysia

By Mohammad Sadek
Date: Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kuala Lumpur: About 100 Burmese citizens together with international supporters held peaceful demonstration in front both Burmese and Royal Thai Embassies in Kualam Lumpur , Malaysia, yesterday.

The people were led by the All Burma Democratic Force (ABDF) which is an umbrella organization of different ethnic, political, socio-economic, cultural and religious groups of Burma , based in Malaysia .

The group first approached to the Burmese Embassy at 9:45am. They read out the statement for few minutes and handed over the statement to Embassy Secretary Thein Zaw.

The demonstrators condemn the sham process of Burmese regime for constitutional referendum and demanded the regime to allow international agencies to helping the cyclone victims, while urging to set free of Daw Aung Sann Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners for the welfare of Burmese people and country.

After completing their demonstration at Burmese Embassy, the demonstrators rushed to Royal Thai Embassy to protest against the supports of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej that Aung San Suu Kyi÷Õ detention "Thailand has no problem with the prolonged house arrest in Myanmar of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi" and Burma÷Õ sham Referendum that appeared in the Voice of America (VOA News) on April 30, 2008.

The demonstrators urged upon Thailand Government to immediately repeal its supportive hands over the regime in order to settle the crises in Burma urgently.

In the memorandum, the ABDF mentioned that ø—his is the second brutal behavior of Mr. Samak on Burma issue within last two months. The first one was about the ethnic Burmese Rohingyas who are compelled to take shelter in their country that appeared in the Bangkok Post Newspaper on March 28, 2008. He tested the Burmese people blowing an air against Rohingyas and then showed his views against the will of all Burmese people as he came to dare from his first signal.

They also requested the member states of ASEAN, particularly Thailand and Malaysia to pave vital role to extend all possible assistances towards the people of Burma , especially those who are affected by the cyclone, in order to get relief from the tyranny and economic hardship. The ASEAN countries must share the burden in Burma as these countries are involved in supporting the SPDC with a view of constructive engagement.

The memorandum for the Royal Thai Government was read out by Mr. Muhammad Saifullah, a 22-years old youth leader of the ethnic Rohingyas, who has been serving in the Rohingya Youth Development Forum (RYDF) for years and gained experiences in genuine process for the democratization. Once, he served in a news agency and now actively involves in rights activities.

He has handed over the memorandum to Mr. Karin, Assistant Secretary for Political affairs of the Royal Thai Embassy at 11:00am respectively.

More than 100 police were watching the demonstrators and appraised on the role of Burmese dissidents and they could maintain a peaceful environment.

Narrow escapes for CNN reporter in Myanmar

NEW YORK (Map, News) - A CNN reporter who left Myanmar Friday was chased by authorities as he reported on the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis but escaped primarily because of the incompetence of the people after him.

Read more : here

Burma death toll 'tops 200,000'

Burma's military rulers have held an election while the death toll from the cyclone that hit the country tops 200,000.

It was the first poll in the country for nearly two decades, though voters were under orders to vote "yes" to a constitution that will enshrine a leading role for the military junta.
"People are dying and they still want to go on with this artificial democracy" - Than Tun Aung
Many of the 1.5 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis are still waiting for a concerted aid effort to bring them food and medicine.

Ten thousand refugees turned up in Myaung Mya, west of Rangoon, and their numbers are swelling despite a lack of food and shelter.

Protesters in Japan, Malaysia and Thailand denounced the junta for holding the referendum in apparent disregard for the victims' suffering.
"People are dying and they still want to go on with this artificial democracy," said Than Tun Aung, a refugee who led protests in Kuala Lumpur.
The United Nations appealed for $187 million (£95m) in aid, though it is not confident the food, water and tents flown in will make it to those most in need because of the junta's reluctance to admit international relief workers.

Health experts have warned a "second disaster" is looming from diseases such as diarrhoea and malaria even if survivors do manage to find food and shelter.
Burma's official media revised its death toll to 23,335 people dead.
But aid agencies estimated the real figure could be almost ten times higher.



On 3 May 2008, cyclone Nargis struck the Irrawaddy delta and wiped out entire villages as it left a path of destruction across five regions. Over seven million people were affected by the storm, with estimates of dead ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 and up to a million homeless.
The international community pledged tens of millions of dollars in monetary and material assistance while the SPDC dragged its heels and stymied international aid efforts. By preventing critical and timely humanitarian aid from reaching survivors, the SPDC has put hundreds of thousands of risk of disease and death.

Despite UN appeals and the ongoing “major catastrophe”, the junta is poised to push ahead with the 10 May referendum on its sham constitution in areas unaffected by Nargis.
From the failure to warn and evacuate people to a slow and inadequate response, Nargis has obliterated the facade of competence the SPDC is still desperate to project

Urgent health-care and food needed for survivors

One week after the deadly cyclone, survivors in the Irrawaddy Delta still urgently need health care and food, while many are suffering from trauma, residents and aid workers said.In Laputta Township, 30 monasteries and schools were filled with homeless survivors who were sharing food collected from local residents."But it is not enough for them," said an eyewitness from the township.
Others were in desperate need of medical care, as many suffered cuts and burns on their bodies from debris and the cyclone's severe winds and lashing rains, the witness said.International health experts suggested that starvation was looming and diseases were increasing by the day. But aid workers were becoming increasingly frustrated by the military government's refusal to grant visas for aid workers and allow in shipments.Shantha Bloemen, Bangkok-based spokeswoman for UNICEF, told Mizzima the major concerns were sanitation and water contamination. She said water-purification tablets and health-sanitation facilities were needed to prevent the outbreak of diseases and diarrhea. Many children already had diarrhea, which "is a big killer of children," she said."Malaria and dengue is a serious problem," she added.Moreover, survivors were suffering from trauma after the cyclone's storm surge dragged away their families in front of their eyes.A survivor from Chan Thar Kyi village, 10 miles from Laputta Township, lost nine family members in the cyclone."I lost all my family members while we tried to escape from the heavy storm," he said. "I lost them while I tried to pull them from the storm and rain. I lost them all. I did not get back any of their bodies.
"The man added, "Nobody cares about the dead bodies spread on the ground while we try to reach downtown for food and water."An eyewitness said survivors had blank stares when he talked to them.He added: "We do not have any food and water after the cyclone. We have been trying to drink rain water but it has been made salty and we could not drink it."According to an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) report, 92 percent of houses in Laputta Township were destroyed by the cyclone.Many survivors were taken to nearby townships, such as Myaungmya and Wakema, in Irrawaddy Division, because there wasn't enough food assistance in Laputta Township."Yesterday morning, military trucks from battalion 66 came and picked up survivors, those who freshly arrived from villages by boat, and carried them to Myaungmya and Wakhema Township," the eyewitness said.------------------------------WFP halts aid to Burma: APMizzima News
Friday, 09 May 2008 22:30WFP halts aid to Burma: APThe World Food Program suspended aid to cyclone victims in Burma because the military regime seized supplies flown into the country, according to Associated Press.

Fund set up for Myanmar cyclone victims

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 ─ The Foreign Ministry has set up a special fund for people to make contributions to victims of tropical cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

Called the Nargis Disaster Fund, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said people can start contributing from yesterday via cheques payable to "Tabung Bencana Kementerian Luar Negeri".

He said the public can also contact the chief accountant of the Foreign Ministry, Mohammed Zamberi Othman, at 03-8887-4251 or 03-8889-2924 to make payments.
"We will send the contributions to the Myanmar government to be disbursed to the victims," he told reporters at Parliament lobby.

Abdul Rahim also said the government was making arrangements to send relief aid in the form of food supplies to Myanmar on Sunday via a special flight by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. ─ Bernama


Dear friends

I received a letter from Myanmar Embassy London today and couldn’t believe my eyes.

There is an invite for a boat trip in the Thames River by Myanmar Association (UK).
Myanmar Association (UK) is organized and control by Myanmar Embassy in the UK.

Ticket is 10 GBP which include Mon-Hinn-Ger lunch (free) and karaoke entertainment by singer Tin Zar Maw. It said, don’t forget to can bring your favourite karaoke if you want to sing along.
By the way, I’ve heard that Ambassador U Nay Win is a keen karaoke singer.

How these people can enjoy singing in the River Cruise boat trip?

It should rather be in a boat at Bo-ga-lay and help the people, if they really like the boat.

Also, you have might already seen this news.
I forward this news just in case.


Dr. win Naing

A Cyclone Diary

Sanchaung Township. May 2-3I first heard that a cyclone was approaching Burma on the 1 p.m. news on May 2. The next day, the cyclone’s approach was reported in the state-published newspapers, but the item was buried amid other news. The constitutional referendum planned for May 10 dominated the headlines. Later I heard that many people had overlooked the news item, believing it was of little importance.

Flooded villages are seen in this aerial view near an airport in Rangoon on May 5. (Photo: Reuters)At about 2 p.m. On May 3, a friend from Bassein, capital of Irrawaddy Division, called me with the news that the cyclone had hit Haing Gyi island in the Irrawaddy delta. Some villages near Chaung Thar beach had reportedly disappeared. I tried to call Chaung Thar to confirm the news but I couldn't get through.Journalists from some Rangoon publications set out that day to try and reach Bassein, but I later heard that they hadn’t been able to get there.

Offices and schools in Rangoon closed early, and worried groups of residents gathered at bus stops.Myanmar TV carried storm warnings on its 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. newscasts, but few viewers took the news seriously—not much credence is given to anything carried by the state media.It rained later that night, and the wind picked up, growing stronger all the time. At 2 a.m. On May 3, the howling wind woke people up and frightened the children. At around 4 a.m. the residents of one eight-story apartment block left their homes and sought shelter on the ground floor. Zinc roofing was being ripped off the building and the rain was penetrating homes.

May 3

Residents fill water into tanks after water shortage in Rangoon. (Photo:Reuters)In her dilapidated home in Rangoon’s Wartayar district, Ma Oo, a food vendor, described how she recited Than Buddhe rhymes to her eight year-old son and five year-old daughter to comfort them. She heard cries of help and ran outside, taking the children—just in time to see their home collapse before their eyes. A neighbor, Ma Kyin Ngwe, called them over to her own ruined home, and they hugged the ground as the wind sent pots, pans and furniture flying around them.There was no escape from the fury of the storm. Wartayar is a raw, treeless place, accommodating people made homeless by a disastrous fire in Rangoon’s Hlaing Township.May 3, 11 a.m.
The wind began to slacken. In its wake it left behind a scene of devastation—fallen trees and power lines, roofless buildings, collapsed homes. Shocked residents gathered outside to assess the damage.
May 3, Noon

Cars line up for petrol at a petrol station in Rangoon on Wednesday. (Photo:AP)People began to tour the streets, looking for shops that would sell them food and other provisions. Many shops were closed, and those shopkeepers who opened their doors demanded inflated prices.Many prices had doubled virtually overnight. A duck egg now cost 200 kyat (18 US cents). Zinc roofing—now in big demand—had jumped in price from 1,200 kyat ($1) per square foot to as much as 3,000 kyat ($2.7).Neighbors helped each other. A resident of Rangoon’s Shwepyithar district said, "We had to. Anybody with sufficient rice distributed it to those in need, starting with children and the elderly.”
May 4
The demand for zinc roofing sheets and rice grew still further. Buses were back in service, but fares had risen astronomically. A 50 kyat (4 US cents) ticket now cost 2,000 kyat ($1.60). Taxi fares also jumped, keeping pace with increases in the price of fuel. Not only fuel was in short supply—clean water, too, was hard to find and cost up to 3,000 kyat ($2.40) for 20 liters.
One worker from Rangoon’s Shwepyithar district said there was no rice to be found in the suburbs. "There are a lot people who haven't eaten since yesterday,” he said. Many said they expected no help from the government. A teacher said: "There is no roof now on our building. We’ve been told that we have to repair it on our own. How can I repair it on my monthly salary? I have no money to spare. So I have to live with it as it is.”Ironically, civil servants living in poorly-constructed government housing fared worse than others as the storm ripped into their apartment blocks. “Contractors rushed the buildings up, pocketing the profits,” said one government official.Bus fares eased today, but still were 10 times last week’s level. The price of rice, however, has soared, although the government announced on May 5 that it would make rice and such commodities as palm oil and building materials available at controlled prices. Rangoon residents looked in vain, however, for the promised goods.

Australian Red Cross: Burma Cyclone Appeal today in THE WEST

Join Us

Dear Friends,

Please join us to protest US to go in Burma without any delay to help cyclone victims.
Will be in fronr of US embassy, Grosvener Square.
Saturday 10/05/08 and Sunday 11/05/08...11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Thank you very much indeed.

Kyaw Zwa

Press Release:Burma Cyclone Relief Committee (Toronto)

For Immediate Release Media Contact:
416 358 2318 May 8, 2008

Burmese Community in Toronto and concerned Canadians have formed the Burma Cyclone Relief Committee (Toronto) to provide help to the cyclone victims in most effective way.

Name and Position Organization

1) Mr. Kyaw Zaw Wai, Chair Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario
2) Mr. Bush Gulati, Joint Chair CRDB
3) Mr. Min Naing, Secretary Burmese Students Democratic Organization
4) Mr. Leslie Chen, Treasurer (1) Burmese Chinese Association of Ontario
5) Ms. Lilly Chen, Treasurer (2) Burmese Chinese Association of Ontario
6) Mr. Aung Tin, EC* NLD Canada
7) Mr. Aung Myint Kyaw, EC* Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario
8) Mr. Nyunt Aye EC* Burma-Canadian Association of Ontario
9) Mr. Donald Min, EC* Burma-Canadian Association of Ontario
10) Mr. Aung New Oo, EC* Burmese Students Democratic Organization
11) Mr. Htun Htun Oo, EC* Burmese Students Democratic Organization
12) Ms. Mar Mar Cho, EC* Canadian Campaign for Free Burma
13) Ms. Caroline Kirshner, EC* Canadian Campaign for Free Burma
14) Mr. Kyaw Sithu, Member Individual
15) Mr. Zaw Win, Member Individual
16) Mr. Htun Htun Win, Member Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario
17) Ms. Win Kyi Aye, Member Burma-Canadian Association of Ontario
18) Mr. Soe Htay, Member Burmese Students Democratic Organization
19) Mr. Htun Myint Kyaw, Member Burmese Students Democratic Organization
20) Ms. Ulla Laidlaw, Member Canadian Campaign for Free Burma
21) Ms. Stephanie Conant, Member Canadian Campaign for Free Burma
22) Mr. San Thein Myint, Member Individual

Note: * Executive Committee

Kyaw, Zaw Wai
(416) 358-2318

Objective of the Committee

To render immediately and effectively direct assistance to the Burmese people affected by the cyclone.


Donors are requested to write the cheques payable to "Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario", and mention "Burma cyclone relief " as reference memo on the cheque; and on the envelope if donation is in cash. We also request the donors to provide the return mailing addresses to provide the tax receipts. All donations will be delivered to the victims through reliable non-government organizations such as the International Burmese Monks Organization and local humanitarian aid organizations in Burma. There is no overhead cost.

Donation by Mail

Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario
Maha Dhammika Temple
12 High Meadow Place
Toronto, Ontario
M9L 2 Z5

Donation in Person

We are also accepting in person donations at the following addresses:

Burma Buddhist Association of Ontario
Maha Dhammika Temple
12 High Meadow Place
Toronto, Ontario
M9L 2 Z5
Contact: Ashin, (416) 747-7879

Burmese Python Soccer Club
430 St. Clarens Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
M6H 3W3
Contact: Tun Myint Kyaw, (416) 533-1906

Aung Tin
1278 Bloor Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M6H 1N8

A divided UN challenged by Myanmar's obstinacy

It took a natural disaster the size of Cyclone Nargis for the UN to find that it cannot work easily with an authoritarian regime like Myanmar, which has not warmly welcomed international aid despite high civilian deaths and destruction.
The UN had quickly brought assistance to victims of deadly earthquakes in Iran and Pakistan in the past, and after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia. Governments in those countries welcomed aid and international relief workers with open arms.It took North Korea, an isolated authoritarian regime, months in the 1990s to decide to call for international aid after severe floodings destroyed crops and spread largescale famine among the population. But the UN did provide food and medicine to help the impoverished country.Myanmar's military junta, which clashed with the UN on democratic reform, has been extremely reluctant to accept relief workers from the outside as it is facing a major humanitarian disaster brought by Nargis.The government was scheduled to go ahead with a national referendum this weekend on a new constitution and speculation was that it felt the less international presence the better. The next step would be presidential elections in 2010.
The draft constitution has been criticised as not inclusive because opposition members, including Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the National League for Democracy, may be barred from participating. Despite a humanitarian disaster it cannot handle, the government appears to be intent on proceeding with a questionable referendum.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Thursday called on Myanmar to focus on solving the national tragedy without suggesting outright that the government should call off the referendum.'Due to the scope of the disaster facing Myanmar, the secretary general believes that it may be prudent to focus instead on mobilising all available resources and capacity for the emergency response efforts,' a spokesperson said.
The UN has not made the leap of linking Myanmar's apparent rejection of foreign relief workers to the holding of the referendum, preferring to focus instead on providing food and medicine to the more than one million people affected by the cyclone.The UN Security Council, which held a hand-wrangling discussion about what to do with an authoritarian government that has failed to meet the responsibility to protect its own people, found itself divided.Council members clashed between democratic governments that want to provide aid at all costs and those that showed understanding of dictatorship regimes.'That's the difference between democracy and dictatorship,' one exasperated Western ambassador said after confronting council members on the provision of humanitarian aid.Council members disagreed on the implementation of the UN concept of the responsibility to protect, developed in 2005, which would allow UN intervention in a major civilian humanitarian crisis regardless of national sovereignty.Western members wanted John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian emergency affairs, to appear before the council. But other council members opposed. Holmes himself preferred not to be caught between the two camps.US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed 'outrage' that Myanmar had not welcomed international help.'We are outraged by the slow response by the government of Burma to welcome and accept assistance,' Khalilzad said, using the traditional name of the country. 'It's clear that the government's capacity to deal with the situation is catastrophic.'Khalilzad suggested that Holmes appeal to UN members for help since he cannot appear before the 15-nation council.Holmes, a former British ambassador to France, planned to launch an appeal to the international community to provide assistance to Myanmar. But he was criticised for being soft on Myanmar after some governments, including France, suggested providing relief goods at all costs.'I don't think that invading Myanmar is a sensible option for the people in Myanmar,' Holmes said Wednesday when the amount of aid was just trickling into Myanmar.'If it was a blanket refusal by the government, it would have been a different matter, but it is not the situation we're in.'
'The cooperation (from Myanmar) is reasonable and we're moving in the right direction,' he said, adding that discussion between the UN and Myanmar had been 'useful and constructive'.Myanmar has not totally waived visa requirements to foreign aid workers ready to bring much needed relief goods to the more than one million people severely affected by the cyclone.It has also not clearly said whether the relief goods will be exempted from customs charges and has demanded that foreign relief workers be escorted in Myanmar.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis: Get Ready for the Worst

We all remember (I hope) November's Cyclone Sidr, the deadliest global hurricane in a decade, which killed more than 3,000 people after making a powerful landfall in Bangladesh. After that, you would think this vulnerable region would get a break – but Cyclone Nargis may have other ideas.
This storm, which formed over the weekend, is now a Category 1, and the official forecast right now is for steady intensification up to Category 4 at least. No one is sure where the storm will make landfall, but India, Bangladesh, and Burma/Myanmar all have worrying to do.

And according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, there's nothing else in the atmosphere ocean system that will interfere with Nargis either – as the agency predicts, "THE STORM WILL INCREASE IN INTENSITY THROUGHOUT THE FORECAST PERIOD DUE TO FAVORABLE OCEAN HEAT CONTENT, LOW VERTICAL WIND SHEAR, AND GOOD POLEWARD OUTFLOW."

Much of the world has been relatively quiet of late for hurricanes – but it's important to bear in mind that that has not been the case for the North Indian region. First came 2007's shocking Category 5 Arabian Sea cyclone, Gonu; then came Sidr; and now, here's Nargis. This puts me in mind of my last post, about Kerry Emanuel's most recent work: It suggests that in our changing world, the different hurricane basins of the world will respond very differently to climate change. Storms may also be fewer, but stronger when they do occur.

Right or wrong, that's a prediction that will certainly resonate for the Indian Ocean region of late.

Cyclone Nargis

Cyclone Nargis was a tropical cyclone. It was the first in the Indian Ocean in 2008. It was classified as a Category 4 storm. It made landfall (went on land) in Myanmar in April and May 2008. It s possibly one of the worst storms to have hit the country. Officially at least 22,980+ people have died in the storm, with more 41,000 still not found (missing)[1][2]; the figures however are still rising, and 80,000 were reported dead in just one town. After the disaster, the Burmese government has called for help in dealing with the situation.[3] Some people say the government is having problems coping with the situation.[4]

More recent reports from the government say that about 80,000 have died. Some non-governmental organizations estimate that the final number will be well over 100,000.[5] Certain aid workers that came into the country estimate that 2 to 3 million are homeless, in the worst disaster in Burma’s history. They say it is comparable with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Andrew Kirkwood, country director of a British charity organisation said:"We're looking at 50,000 dead and millions of homeless. I'd characterise it as unprecedented in the history of Burma. [It has had about the same effect as] the tsunami on individual countries. There might well be more dead than the tsunami caused in Sri Lanka."[6]

Because of the storm, the government has declared five regions - Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Bago Divisions, Mon and Kayin States currently as disaster areas. Thousands of buildings were destroyed; in the town of Labutta, located in the Ayeyarwady Division, state television reported that 75% of buildings had collapsed and 20% had their roofs ripped off.[7] It is believed that the cyclone is the deadliest tropical cyclone in the world since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, which killed about 18,000 people. At least 10,000 people have been reported to have died in the delta town of Bogale [8].

A diplomat in the city of Yangon spoke to the Reuters news agency, giving them a description of the scene. He said that the area around him looked like a 'war zone' as a result of the cyclone. Burst sewage mains caused the landscape to flood with waste, ruining the rice crop. [9] An official from the United Nations also talked about the situation, at the time of the event. "It's a bad situation. Almost all the houses are smashed. People are in a terrible situation," he said. Another UN representative also talked about the incident. He reported that "The Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge." The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper, reported that food prices in Myanmar could be affected by this disaster.[10][11]