Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Burma Cyclone Update:


Financial Times

(This is an update on a previous post concerning Cyclone Nargis that hit Burma in early May.)

According to an assessment completed by the United Nations and the Association of South East Asian Nations, Cyclone Nargis caused a total of $4bn worth of damage to Burma. Cyclone Nargis, the worst Asian cyclone since 1991, destroyed almost a half million homes, damaged 350,000 more and left many communities without schools and medical centers. The Burmese government now estimates that over $1bn will be necessary to provide emergency services to its people over the next three years.

That Burma allowed unfettered access to the UN and other international aid organizations to complete the assessment is seen as a minor political victory. As the previous post explained, Burma’s military junta was initially slow to allow the international community to enter Burma to offer aid, assistance, and badly needed food and water. However, some two months later the UN reported that aid money is being well spent and applauded Burma cooperation in the compressive assessment.

Burma’s recent cooperation is a step in the right direction towards regaining its standing with international aid organizations such as the World Bank. However, experts are quick to note that many of the political realties from before the cyclone still exist. It is unlikely that the recent cooperation alone -- without additional human rights reform -- will put Burma back in the World Bank’s good grace. Putting those issues aside, with the assessment providing a blueprint for future aid, many are optimistic that Burma will receive the aid it desperately needs.

How long do you think the military junta will continue to cooperate with international aid organizations? Is this a good sign that Burma is ready to reform or do you think cooperation will decrease as Burma’s situation improves?

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