In late December 2004, I wrote about the 23,000 who perished in the Boxing Day tsunami in south and east Asia. That 23,000 total ended up being a small fraction of the actual number of casualties. Over 225,000 died as a result of that Indian Ocean earthquake.
Earlier this month, Cyclone Nargis struck Burma (also known as Myanmar) and at least 23,335 people have died with a further 37,019 people still missing. The U.N. has suggested the death toll is likely to be more than 100,000.
My question is simple. Why did the tsunami strike such a chord and result in numerous celebrity benefits and an overwhelming outpouring of united relief when I sense the attention and eagerness to assist Burma (also known as Myanmar) pales by comparison?
The simple answer is to blame Burma's military junta who declared that their acceptance of international aid relief would be limited to food, medicines and other supplies as well as financial aid, but would not allow additional foreign aid workers or military units to operate in the country.
More than a week after the disaster, only one out of 10 people who are homeless, injured or threatened by disease and hunger have received some kind of aid. These delays are killing thousands. This secretive and selfish military junta is a bottleneck that needs to be removed.
We can't collectively throw up our arms and declare the situation helpless, but I'm not sure what alternatives will bear essential fruit.