Monday, June 02, 2008

Stuff like this makes me mad

Ok, so I am just as concerned as the next person about the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, but god, I am getting irritated and sick at the whole conversation around letting in foreign aid workers (and I am well aware that my livelihood depends on being let into places)...

A quote from this alert net article:

A major problem in delivering foreign aid has been an inability to get enough international aid workers into the worst-hit Irrawaddy delta due to visa hurdles and red tape.

And more:

"We haven't been able to get the whole mechanism going. Progress has been slow," Hakan Tongul, deputy director in Myanmar of the U.N.'s World Food Programme, told Reuters in Yangon.
Around 500,000 people have received some food and water since the storm struck nearly a month ago, but another 200,000 have received no international help at all, he said.
Some 45 U.N. visa requests were approved after junta leader Senior General Than Shwe promised last week to allow in "all" legitimate foreign aid workers, but obstacles remain.
One western aid worker said on Saturday that a two-day processing period to enter the delta area, which had been earlier cut from two weeks, had now increased to three.
Speaking to reporters in Singapore, Gates, whose government is one of Myanmar's harshest critics, accused the generals of "criminal neglect"

The Criminal Neglect from my POV is the fact that we have people that need help, we seem to think that only FOREIGN aid workers can do this, there is WFP on the ground and should just be mobilizing local people (who are going to the regions to deliver aid themselves, whatever they can afford to), and instead, our hang up is on visas to let in WESTERN aid workers. Have all the other people/aid workers in the world that is not in the WEST died or something ? Is it really just rhetoric when we talk about community participation and consultation and local solutions since when we have the time to show that yeah, it's not just lip service and local solutions, partners, communities can be used, we sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the WESTERN experts to come in.... such bullshit.

If we as the international community were really concerned about the PEOPLE, the victims (of both the cyclone and the regime (and with that line, there goes any chance of my job there)), we would be making huge efforts to get aid to the people in any manner we could. I refuse to believe that agencies on the ground already cannot do that. Just cuz some foreign aid workers can't get in everyone gets into a huff. So childish. Organize with what you have on the ground, and if you have people who are willing to work, you can do this. It is that simple. if the UN thinks there is still relief that needs to go out, GO DO IT using the local capacities available and there are local capacities available....there always are. Deal with the messed up nature of the government later. Now is not the time for petty politics. Gawd!


barney said...

Thank you. Fantastic commentary.
I totally agree and I'm glad you said it because I worried that maybe you forgot some of the harsh colonial realities of the history of development - but you haven't - and for that, I thank you.

Even if you let the dogs slobber all over me, I still love you.

PS Beruna sends her love - we're on our honeymoon. Don't tell her mom, she doesn't know.

elefanta said...

On behalf of the indigenous elefants of Myanmar I would like to thank you for your outcry against neocolonial thought and the preservation of local movements.

sincerest regards,

ps. beruna's mom really doesn't know where she is... is she in sri lanka getting slobbered on by little doggies also? so dirrrrrty!