Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cyclone Nargis and the Country who's name we cannot even agree on

Article Title: Compilation of recent reports - see individual articles Ed. Note: For a fairly decent review of the country and the dispute behind the name see the Wikipedia entry here: Weeks After Cyclone in Myanmar, Even Farmers Wait for Food NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - May 26, 2008 PYAPON, Myanmar — The roads of the ravaged Irrawaddy Delta are lined these days with people hoping to be fed. After lifetimes living off the land, poor farmers have abandoned their ruined rice paddies, setting up makeshift bamboo shelters, waiting for carloads of Burmese civilians who have taken it on themselves to feed those who lost everything to Cyclone Nargis. Few of those who wait say they have received anything from the government, other than threats. “They said if we don’t break our huts and disappear, they will shoot us,” one man in the village of Thee Kone said over the weekend before a police jeep approached. “But as you can see, it’s raining now. We are pleading to the police to give us one more day and we will be gone far, far from the road, as they wish.” A red sign on a stake along one road read: “Don’t throw food on the roads. It ruins the people’s good habits.” On Sunday, donors from more than 50 countries and international agencies meeting in Yangon promised they would deliver more than $150 million in aid to help the country recover from the May 3 storm, The Associated Press reported, but only if they could get access to hard-hit areas like the delta. It remained unclear if Myanmar’s rulers were willing to meet that demand. At the donor conference, Lt. Gen. Thein Sein, Myanmar’s prime minister, said that international aid was welcome, “provided that there are no strings attached,” according to news agencies that were allowed to send reporters to the meeting. The conference also made clear a gap remained between the views of the government and the donors on what Myanmar needed most urgently. The government, which insists that the emergency phase of the disaster is over, showed a video suggesting the country had enough rice, and that what it needed instead was billions of dollars for long-term reconstruction. Some analysts fear that the focus on rebuilding is a ploy. “I believe they just want to use it for their ordinary activity, put it into their accounts and use it to buy weapons or houses or whatever they would like to do,” Josef Silverstein, an expert on Myanmar with Rutgers University, said in a recent interview. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he believed that short-term help was a priority, with hundreds of thousands left homeless and aid reaching only a fraction of those who needed it. “The needs remain acute,” Mr. Ban said Sunday, “from clean water and sanitation to shelter, medical supplies and food.” The breadth of those needs was evident during a trip on Friday and Saturday to the delta, the area most devastated by the storm, which left at least 134,000 people dead or missing. It also ruined rice fields and destroyed stocks of rice in flooding that followed. Villagers in the region, which previously provided much of the rice for the country of 48 million, now squat along miles of roads, holding out bowls to the occasional passing cars bringing food and other supplies. Children keep a vigil, rushing to the vehicles for handouts, sometimes thrusting their arms inside the cars’ windows. - - - A 51-year-old woman who gave her name as San said she recently received potatoes and a small amount of beans from the government but had no stove for cooking them. Some people have been given government-issued tents, but the tents can accommodate only a small fraction of those left homeless. In the village of Thee Kone near Pyapon, a major town in the delta, victims said that the village had received four tents that house 20 people each. Any family lucky enough to find tent space had received 16 cups of rice in the past week, a little more than two cups a day. - - - Those and other makeshift dwellings that have popped up on the roadsides are barely sufficient to shield people from the searing morning sun or the monsoon rains that sweep in to drench the area most afternoons. Many of those who moved to the roadsides are the poorest of Burmese farmers, those who rent rice paddies from landlords. Before the storm, they traveled with their buffaloes, ducks and pigs from field to field, living in huts beside their paddies. - - - Still, the government continues to make it difficult for those wishing to offer private charity. Police officers armed with rifles stopped cars at checkpoints on Friday and Saturday. Foreigners without government permits to enter the disaster zone were turned back after their passports were copied. Those Burmese who were allowed to pass through were given a warning: Any donation, a yellow handout notice said, must be distributed through village leaders allied with the government. In Pyapon, a commercial hub renowned for its “hpaya” grass mats, people maintained a semblance of traditional Burmese hospitality despite the disaster. When outside visitors asked for directions at dusk, a man offered them food and lodging at his home. Pyapon, a trading center for rice, dried fish and fish paste, is the hometown of many rich Burmese tradesmen. But in this town, too, tales of horror were told, over evening tea. “Dead bodies floating down the Pyapon River are no longer strangers to us,” said Daw Khin Kyi, a resident. “Some of these bodies still wear gold necklaces and bracelets, so some people went out to collect them in the first few days. But now, after many days, nobody goes near. Fish are nibbling at the bodies.” Ma Ye Ye Tan, a 17-year-old from a hamlet down the river, survived the cyclone. She had arrived at the home of a Pyapon relative several days after the cyclone with virtually nothing on, shivering in monsoon rain. Now, she said, she did want to go back to her village, which is filled with death. She is not sure what happened to her parents. “After the cyclone came and went, we continued to hear people shouting in the darkness, but when village men went to search for them, they could find no one,” she said. “We think they are ghosts shouting. I am afraid of ghosts.” Seth Mydans contributed reporting from Bangkok. Aid trickles into Burma, but toll 'could reach 1 million if disease set in' THE TIMES of LONDON [News Corporation/Murdoch] - Report by AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - May 11, 2008 RANGOON - Relief deliveries into cyclone-hit Burma increased today but aid groups said supplies fell far short of the enormous need and that foreign experts were still barred from the country. A cargo plane chartered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) carrying 35 tonnes of aid was one of the latest to arrive. The ICRC said the medical supplies on board were sufficient to treat some 250 trauma patients and provide three months of basic health care for 10,000 people. The plane was also carrying sanitation equipment, including a mobile water-treatment plant to provide drinking water for 10,000 people, it said. But other aid groups warned of a growing catastrophe. “It’s really crucial that people get access to clean water sources and sanitation to avoid unnecessary deaths and suffering,” Sarah Ireland, Oxfam regional chief, said. She said the death toll from the May 3 cyclone could go up to 100,000, a figure also suggested by other aid groups. “There are all the factors for a public health catastrophe which could multiply that death toll by up to 15 times,” she said. Cyclone Nargis, which smashed into the rice-growing Irrawaddy Delta region in the country’s south on May 3, left 60,000 people dead or missing, according to an official toll. The junta, deeply suspicious of the outside world, has refused to let in foreign experts who specialise in getting aid to disaster victims, and said that only the government would be allowed to distribute emergency supplies. “Some opening-up on the part of the (Myanmar) authorities is allowing us to get these materials to their destination,” said Stephan Goetghebuer, director of operations of medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres. “But it’s no more than a drip-feed, really, given a serious response is more than required. We still need more back-up aid and personnel ready to leave,” he added. - - - The international community has spoken out in increasingly concerned tones over Yangon’s apparent sluggishness or suspicion when it comes to taking up offers of overseas and even non-governmental aid. Both President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke on Saturday of their dismay at Myanmar’s stance, with each having pressed the United Nations Security Council to intervene. The UN has itself said that a week after Cyclone Nargis hit, only one-quarter of the victims have received any help at all, and it has called the relief effort“a race against time." Bodies Flow Into Hard-Hit Area of Myanmar NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - May 11, 2008 THANAP PIN SATE, Myanmar - The bodies come and go with the tides. They wash up onto the riverbanks or float grotesquely downstream, almost always face down. They are all but ignored by the living. In the southern reaches of the Irrawaddy Delta, where the only access to hundreds of small villages is by boat, the remains of the victims of the May 3 cyclone that swept across Myanmar are rotting in the sun. “These people are strangers,” said Kyaw Swe, a clothing merchant who said he expected the tides to take away the six bloated bodies lying on the muddy banks near his collapsed home. “They come from upstream.” Villagers here say it is not their responsibility to handle the dead. But the government presence is barely felt in the serpentine network of canals outside Bogale and Phyarpon, devastated towns in the delta, one of the areas hardest hit by the storm. “When we first saw the bodies floating past, we were sad and afraid,” said Aung Win, a 45-year-old rice farmer, who seemed to have survived because his house is made of hardwood. “Now we just say, here comes another body.” In the less devastated areas, the military junta was focused on a constitutional referendum on Saturday intended to cement its power after a campaign of intimidation, even as it continued to restrict foreign aid shipments. Relief experts say the aid being distributed is a fraction of what is needed to help as many as 1.5 million people facing starvation and disease. The military appeared to be diverting some resources from cyclone victims to the referendum. One resident of Yangon, speaking by phone, said refugees who had sought shelter in schoolhouses were forced out so the buildings could be used as polling places. But here in the series of canals outside Bogale, many people interviewed Saturday during an eight-hour boat trip used the same word to describe how many bodies they saw in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone: “countless.” The trip began in Phyarpon, one of the delta’s major cities, and continued southwest through canals large and small, with stops at half a dozen villages. But in a delta so vast, crisscrossed by tiny waterways, it is very difficult to assess the overall scale of death and destruction. The official government death toll from the cyclone is about 23,000, but by some accounts, it could reach 100,000 if aid does not reach survivors soon. As the boat wended its way through canals, it passed at least 24 bodies, most of them along the banks, tangled with the fallen foliage. One body was positioned reaching out toward the shore. Nearby, the bodies of an adult and a child clung to each other, floating in the middle of a canal as riverboats passed by. Even more pervasive are the giant corpses of water buffaloes bobbing in the water. Because the dead have not been gathered in one place, calculating a precise number of deaths caused by the cyclone could ultimately prove impossible. In villages here, stunned survivors say the missing are presumed dead. With no roads connecting them to larger towns and cities, these villages have always been isolated. Now villagers say they feel abandoned. In Gwe Choung, 13 miles from Bogale, a reporter visiting Saturday was the first outsider to set foot in the village since the storm hit. “We have no seed, no cows and no buffaloes,” said Mawin Lat, 34, a villager. “We only have food for the next few days.” Fish are plentiful in the canals, but villagers refuse to eat them because they fear the bodies still floating have contaminated the water, she said. Of the 200 people in the village, 96 died. In other villages visited Saturday, the death tolls ranged from 3 to 20. Hundreds of houses were destroyed, detritus from the storm hung from trees and dozens of fishing boats were ruined. Many boats were swept by the winds and waves during the storm onto embankments or into rice paddies. In the worst-hit areas, only the dirt foundations of houses remain. On one mound of mud where a house once stood, a dog waited patiently with no people in sight. There is so much worry about measles outbreaks that the government has begun vaccinating children in some of the Irrawaddy townships and also in temporary shelters in other parts of the region, the World Health Organization reported Saturday. Closer to Yangon, the main city, formerly known as Rangoon, the water is receding, the rebuilding is accelerating and the cemeteries are dry enough to dig graves. After a tumultuous week, the rituals of death returned to the small village of Ta Nyn Kone. The thin but rigid body of 6-year-old Pauk Gyi was lowered into the ground, wrapped in a bamboo mat and red fabric. Pauk Gyi died after a high fever that his neighbors, who buried him, thought was caused by typhoid. He was laid to rest next to his brother, Kyaw Zin Htat, who drowned in flood waters on Friday. The parents, stricken by their double loss, stayed at home during the burial. “They are anguished,” said U Shwe Nyne, a neighbor who helped bury the boys. “The mother is hysterical.” FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. 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