Disaster Relief – Where does your help go?


By now, anyone not living in a vacuum would know about the Myanmar cyclone/flood and Chinese earthquake. While China’s situation, though newer, appears to be more manageable due to a more sympathetic and cooperative hand at the helm, the Myanmarese victims are still facing dire conditions. (Though it seems some of Myanmar’s problems are being reenacted)

Everywhere, people are rushing to help and donate, in personal or corporate or governmental capacities. However, with the situation in Myanmar, with aid still slowly trickling in (at the wilfulness of the junta), food and much needed help may not be reaching the victims, or used by the people it is intended for. Even when Burmese extend helping hands, the junta slaps them, and victims receive meagre rations of rotten rice while relief effort-delivered good quality rice was kept for itself. In fact, the Myanmarese rulers continues to seize aid resources while refusing to allow aid workers to enter and do the important work of helping and relieving the suffering of the victims.

Therefore, it is important to channel your aid through effective mediums. Take note especially of Otterman‘s: Mary Callahan on “donations in relief of the disaster in Burma/Myanmar”. Also note this post by mrsbudak:

Aid to Burma

14th May, 2008 at 9:17 AM

baby K, tommy HK stray, MV Agusta Brutale, P plate, Melbourne Aquarium, sian angel, raisin oatmeal, zombie cat, nongla, CNY cat in basin, Angel Mommy, Muffin, Ring, Angel piano, nike shoes, Rasin cookies jar, Angel disapproves, Angel sleeping by Mac, red blue pills, me on bike u-turn, Angel new zombie, cat spit, Angelbox, quietangel, Angel pensive

For those who are keen to donate to help the people of Burma, two posts for consideration:

From [info]elyrie: Burma crisis: an addendum
From the Global Refuge website:

According to GRI’s partners inside Burma, the death total has already hit 100,000 but could be as high as 250,000. This is a more realistic estimate than the official number of 40,000 dead released by the junta government, especially since very little lifesaving aid has reached the people of Burma. Oxfam believes the number could rise to 1.5 million if no aid is allowed into the country…the people of Burma have gathered into more than 700 camps in Yangon and left to cope alone without government help. There is no good drinking water and very limited food available in the camps…
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An update from my friend, who is currently in Bangkok:

  • All NGO and UN agencies have been put on delay for visas, and 9 out of every 10 visas are being rejected;
  • GRI is currently moving supplies overland through Thailand into Burma by trucks;
  • Airlift of supplies will begin this week;
  • GRI is one of only two groups granted access to the delta areas, and they are assuming a leadership position in the Logistics cluster with WFP; other agencies such as IMC, Operation USA and IRC are offering resources but GRI is covering transportation and distribution due to their access to the delta areas.

Once again, if you want to give money, please think about helping out GRI – they have people and access within Burma. Most other agencies have resources, but not the kind of distribution network that GRI has.

In Singapore, a woman who donated SGD$100,000 in cash at the Red Cross for the Myanmar efforts. Perhaps the kind woman has done her homework and determined that the Red Cross is the best conduit through she can help the victims. However, while I do not discredit her or the Red Cross, we must remember to look in our own backlaned: we already have the old NKF saga, numerous sequels, and even some questionable fund-raisers to remind us that not everybody works with altruism.

How many Singaporens will continue to blindly donate? Everytime someone cries, whether it is wolf or otherwise, Singaporeans dig into their pockets without asking, like members of a herd docilely changing directions without asking the leader what’s happened to cause the change. I find that disturbing, because not only does doing so runs the risk of enriching only the undeserved, it may even impede the aid process when resources are not channelled effectively. Singaporeans should open their eyes, ask questions, and SEE where their kindness end up.

As ASEAN set to meet on Myanmar aid set on May 19 (how late is this?), and Aid Begins to Reach Myanmar Cyclone Survivors at last, we must not forget the animal victims either. WSPA is trying to provide aid to the animal victims. Please help if you can, because while no doubt humanity place emphasis on the succour of the human victims, the animal victims have their place in the victims’ lives, especially in the aftermath:

Philip Russell MBE, WSPA’s Director of Disaster Management, said: “No-one else, Governments, humanitarian NGOs or owners have the resources to care for these animals, most of which are owned by poor impoverished families. If those that survived die, so too will the livelihoods of thousands of people.”

He added that, as WSPA so often finds, when operating in emergencies many families will have or be in the process of selling off their remaining livestock at severely reduced prices to ensure some monetary value for immediate subsistence, mainly because they cannot now keep them alive.

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