Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to help Burma cyclone victims

This is not you typical big money aid group that plays by the Myanmar regime's rules. A highly respected -- indeed legendary -- medical clinic on the Thai-Burma border is collecting money for something called The Emergency Assistance Team (EAT-BURMA).

What is EAT?
EAT is working at the grassroots level to provide aid and assistance to the people affected by Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy and Rangoon division areas.

For the safety of our teams and the people inside, we cannot give out information regarding the exact location of our teams, nor their identities. But we are working with a team of about 40 people on the ground who are each working with their own networks of local organisations and people.
Basically, EAT is doing what big western governments with the aircraft carriers, cargo helicopters, and hospital ships don't have the guts to do. They are saying screw the regime, let's get relief aid into Burma and start helping people -- by whatever means. That's the approach I have been arguing for (see here and here).

The Mae Tao Clinic (Cynthia's clinic), located in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot, urgently needs donations to support EAT-BURMA teams. The Mae Tao Clinic itself is ideally positioned to assist refugees of the cyclone who make it to Thailand.

Moreover, with respect to the overall crisis, the people running the Mae Tao Clinic and organizing EAT have the right attitude:
We are calling on all governments and UN bodies to provide aid immediately to our people who are dying in their thousands. International humanitarian organizations and local community organizations must do whatever they can to prevent further deaths and to assist in the restoration of life in Burma. This is not the time to respect Burma's border controls. National restrictions that are causing further deaths, do not deserve anyone's respect.

The global community has a responsibility to protect its citizens. The SPDC has time and again failed to protect the people of Burma, and this time the scale of their neglect is killing our people. The United Nations must invoke the Responsibility To Protect, even if it is necessary to coerce or force the regime to comply with providing protection and rehabilitation to its citizens.
You don't need an evil government's permission to start saving its the lives of its people. Of course this is just common sense, but it's something today's world leaders lack.
Backrgound: "The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC), founded and directed by Dr. Cynthia Maung, provides free health care for refugees, migrant workers, and other individuals who cross the border from Burma to Thailand. People of all ethnicities and religions are welcome at the Clinic. Its origins go back to the student pro-democracy movement in Burma in 1988 and the brutal repression by the Burmese regime of that movement. The fleeing students who needed medical attention were attended in a small house in Mae Sot."
How to donate: "You can make a donation through the Mae Tao Clinic donation page. Please put “Cylcone Nargis Disaster Relief” in the ‘Purpose’ field."
Hat-tip: Rick at TenPercent.
Photo: shows Mae Tao Clinic founder Dr. Cynthia Maung -- from the clinic's website.

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