With tens of thousands dead (possibly a hundred thousand) and hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed, the disaster in Myanmar is approaching the scale of the December 2004 tsunami. The difference is that it’s confined to one extremely poor country with particularly poor infrastructure. [Update: Ken Parish would rather call the country Burma, and recommends this discussion of the name issue.]
Aid agencies are working frantically to supply food, water, medication, tarpaulins and so on, to a million or so survivors of Cyclone Nargis who remain in desperate straits. Their initial efforts have been hampered by the paranoid Myanmar government and bureaucracy (see Ken’s post below) as much as by the blocked roads and unusable airports, but it seems progress is being made.
Some blogosphere veterans might remember that John Quiggin raised nearly $5000 in donations for aid organisations involved in the tsunami relief effort three years ago. John undertook to match every dollar pledged by a reader, with a dollar of his own.
He is doing the same thing again, this time in collaboration with Club Troppo. We are hoping to persuade readers to give generously in the knowledge that every dollar of disposable income sacrificed translates to nearly four dollars of aid. John will donate fifty cents for every dollar pledged in the comments threads for this post, the comments thread for the twin post at his own site, or by email to John or me. Club Troppo contributors will put in another fifty cents.
The deadline for pledges is midnight Thursday 15 May, and we’ll announce the total collected this time next week. If you donate electronically, forward John or me the acknowledgment in due course, although it doesn’t have to be by the deadline. (The acknowledgments don’t usually specify the amount, but we’ll take your word on that.) Unless you ask to remain anonymous, we’ll list the contributors.
Donate to which ever reputable aid organisation you prefer. Some obvious candidates, who are operating in Myanmar now and also accept on-line donations, are Red Cross, CARE, World Vision, and Medecins Sans Frontieres. Oxfam is collecting funds, though they do not appear to be conducting their own operations in Myanmar. Readers are encouraged to add to this list of suggestions.
My email address is j DOT farrell AT uws DOT edu DOT au.