The tragedy in Myanmar is absolutely staggering — Cyclone Nargis wrecked the country a week ago, and reports of the death toll are conflicting, but terrifyingly high. State-run Myanmar television sets it at 28,458, with 33,416 people still missing. The Times Online indicates that the death toll could reach a million if disease sets in and the current sanitation conditions persist.

The military junta is still blocking aid sent to cyclone victims, which is insane, ridiculous, and absolutely criminal in my eyes. But just because the aid efforts are being blocked now doesn’t mean aid isn’t necessary. Just the opposite — the people of Myanmar desperately need assistance by any means necessary.

If you’d like to help, Google is supporting cyclone victims through direct donations to UNICEF and the Direct Aid Organization. The Body Shop is donating 25% of the proceeds from their Bag for Life to Save the Children, who is organizing relief efforts — food, sanitation, clothing and health care supplies — for children affected by Cyclone Nargis.

And before you click to start donating, you should read this article which illustrates Charity Navigator’s guide to donating to cyclone victims. Here’s hoping the people who need it the most start getting help immediately.

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Bridgette says:
May 11, 2008, 11:24 pm
Thanks so much for posting this info.
p1tey1 says:
May 12, 2008, 2:25 am
It just breaks my heart to hear about whats happening over there. Thank you for this information.
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
May 12, 2008, 6:38 am
My heart goes out to these people.I just hope that there government can put there pride aside to let relief in.
Bebroma says:
May 12, 2008, 8:17 am
Thank you for the info, bella. It is hard to believe what the junta is doing over there. Even when they distribute aid (after taking out the time to put stickers or whatever on the sides of the boxes with the names of generals to make it seem it is their largesse) it's not going to the most devastated areas, which is one reason why relief organizations want to oversee the distribution. Hopefully soon they will be forced to relent.
Wes says:
May 12, 2008, 8:44 am
Thanks Bella for shedding light on this tragedy- I'm praying that the people of Myanmar get the help that they so desperately need. Regardless of what region they're from, they're people too and deserve to be treated as such.
Dominique says:
May 12, 2008, 11:27 am
This is truly heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing information on how to help.
Jasmine A says:
May 12, 2008, 12:52 pm
Why is it "insane, ridiculous, and absolutely criminal"? Yes there are a ton of people who need help. But why is it wrong for a government to want to control what and who comes into their own country? I don't think they want to not get people help, they may just want to do it on their own terms. We don't know what kind (if any) of stipulations or conditions this help comes with. The UN, WFP, World Bank, IMF etc. are organizations notorious for applying ridiculous conditions to these poorer nations in order to "help" them. These organizations are far from saints who just want to help. In fact, many of them are quite the opposite. Let's just not be so quick to judge, we do not have all the information necessary to tell if what they are doing is right or wrong.
Bebroma says:
May 12, 2008, 2:55 pm
When mosquito nets, food, water, and medicine are piling up at various ports, even neighboring Thailand, because the junta has whatever checks in place to keep it from being immediately available, when aid workers with the skill and knowledge to distribute the goods aren't being allowed visas, while all the while thousands of people are being reduced to drinking from rivers and ponds that contain dead bodies and feces, then it is a crime against humanity. When children, many of them orphans, are getting sick and dying because of lack of clean water and medicine, then it is a crime against humanity. When the tsunami hit in Indonesia, it was bigger than this, but the government accepted help from other governments, and the suffering, while great, was not what it would have been had they refused or been slow with the aid. I don't think most people are naive enough to think that all these aid organizations are blameless or completely altruistic; there is corruption everywhere. However, from what I understand they are trying to help Myamar "save face" by allowing them to have a great part in this, and I don't think it is unreasonable for these organizations to want their own workers involved in the distribution. They have the knowledge and training to be most effective in disasters of this scale, and hopefully will make sure help also gets to the interior. Fine they don't want the press in, whatever. But what is so sinister about rice and energy biscuits and water and medicine? Burmese who left the country years ago say they are not surprised by the way the government is handling things, which is why they left. I'm not one to say that because it's different, it's wrong. But some things and some government decisions -- aparthied, the treatment of women in many lands, and in my opinion, this blockade of aid, are wrong from a humane perspective.
Bebroma says:
May 12, 2008, 2:58 pm
Myanmar, sorry. I left out the N.
p1tey1 says:
May 12, 2008, 3:23 pm
@ Bedroma, PREACH!!!
Jasmine A says:
May 12, 2008, 5:03 pm
I never said anyone was naive and I didn't say anything was sinister about rice & water. But what comes with rice & water (that we have no idea about) is what can be sinister. We have no idea about the shady, underhanded, evil dealings that many of these poorer nations have to deal with in order to get a little aid. We can sit here in our comfortable homes on the other side of the world and say what WE would do in that situation, but the fact is, you don't know what you would do in that situation until you are in it. Not only do they have to take care of the people in this immediate situation but they also have to look out for them in the long run as well. Letting certain people in now, who you may or may not trust, can cost you in the long run.
Naturally DevaSTing says:
May 12, 2008, 6:49 pm
To follow up with what Bedroma said, while, yes, there may be stipulations and demands placed on aid provided by NGO's, but that is not the case with aid organizations such as Save the Children, Oxfam etc whose work and relief efforts are legendary. These org are truly created for the help of the people. If you watched the news, you will have seen that the military junta has stolen food and supplies from these organizations and kept it for themselves instead of delivering it to the people. The same thing has happened in Darfur, where the junta has killed numerous aid workers and stolen trucks with food, supplies etc as they travel back and forth between their camp and the various villages they service. This country is a dictatorship, where the majority of the people live in extreme poverty. Recently cameras were smuggled in to Myanmar, and the people are petrified to speak for fear of backlash. You can see the fear in their eyes. At one point, the cameras were filming at an orphanage, and the few women who would come outside were clearly petrified. The reporter dropped the camera to the ground but kept filming noting that they military had already gotten wind of their presence and were planning to return. It is very clear what is going on, and yes, Bella, was correct in her assessment of the gov't's actions. No unnecessary judgement is being applied as the info is out there.....
Bebroma says:
May 13, 2008, 6:38 am
Exactly, Naturally DevaSTing. I know someone whose father is from Burma. The junta was not exactly "taking care" of people previous to this. They are very interested in maintaining power. And they don't want cameras there for all the reasons mentioned. Case in point...China's government is not one everybody in the western world agrees with (or eastern, for that matter), but with this quake, and the toll it has taken, and the needs of the people, they want and will accept help. Sitting in my comfortable home on the other side of the world, I still feel that politics is secondary to being humane.
Arlene says:
May 13, 2008, 1:33 pm
This is why I love reading your blog. You touch on topics that are real and that are now. Yes, you love beauty but you also show the beauty of the human spirit. Thank you for mentioning this crisis and showing others how they can help.
test says:
May 17, 2008, 8:59 pm
When u do not know something do not pretend u do... As African-American you should know African American in NO never got help that quick, so Do you think they really want to help those people? You were supposed to be in Irak to help the people, right? What about Haiti? Anyway, talk about things you know... No offense intented...
pfirsch says:
May 17, 2008, 9:27 pm
When the cyclone hit in Burma and everybody was scrambling trying to get them help as quickly as possible, my mother said, "Why couldn't the people in New Orleans get help that fast?" I feel for the people of Myanmar, but it still stings that international aid gets a quicker response than the domestic variety.
test says:
May 19, 2008, 10:39 am
International aid does not get quicker only the marketing around it: Hope u see the difference. BTW, the author of this blog is talking about "Idiocracy" but think the same way as the people in that movie: never wonder why, just take for granted whatever it is said by the people who "knows". Burma got help from China, Russia, India and Thai but refuse help from European and American countries because, contrary to African people, they know how those people help and their propaganda works. How many of you have "adopted" an African kid? How many of you give money to red cross, oxfam, etc.. to help African people? How many of you have noticed that their "aid" to African hasn't helped any of them but contribute to their dependence to your country? How many of you know that the NGO spend more money on marketing than actually helping the people they are supposed to.... So, as I said before, when u do not something to pretend you know to look cool or caring about others... keep talking about what you know that is "beauty". Once again, no offenses intended.
Inam says:
August 27, 2012, 2:49 am
When there was Muslim massacre in the same country before couple of week. Nobody supports ...... where thousands of Muslims were killed and lakhs migrated


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