Posted tagged ‘relief’


August 4, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good morning!

A global fund for natural disasters is among the top agenda of the world body and its partner NGOs. The frequency and ferocity of quirk earthquakes and cyclones has prompted concerned institutions to ‘call to arms’ and address the disaster effects properly.

A relevant news is contained below.

[29 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to DevEx database news.]


UN, NGO and General News Round-Up

The UN has proposed a USD 10 billion global fund to help poor countries cope with natural disasters the world body said were occurring with ever more frequency and ferocity, Reuters reported. A UN report on factors creating world economic insecurity said the existing response to floods and earthquakes of emergency appeals and voluntary contributions should be boosted with a permanent facility, possibly under UN auspices. In a trend some have linked with global warming, more than four times as many disasters occurred annually between 2000 and 2006 than during the 1970s, the report said. The damage costs were seven times higher at an average of $83 billion per year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the G8 nations to stick with a three-year old pledge to raise African aid levels to USD 25 billion a year, after a report the leaders may be about to backtrack. “I would like to urge and emphasize that leaders of G8 should implement their commitment which was made at the Gleneagles summit meeting,” Ban said, referring to the G8’s 2005 summit. “When it comes to climate change … and the global food crisis, these campaigns should be led by the industrialized countries — they have the capacity, they have the resources, and I hope the leadership demonstrates their political will,” he said. Ban’s comments came ahead of the G8 summit in northern Japan on July 7-9.

Somali gunmen freed two UN aid workers from Sweden and Denmark – just hours after seizing them on June 28 in southern Somalia, UN and Somali officials said. The aid workers were released without ransom and were safe, a UN security official told Reuters. The two – who were working for a UN program to clear landmines – were kidnapped in Somalia’s Bakol region. Suspicion for kidnappings generally falls on clan militia and Islamist insurgents who are fighting the Somali government and their Ethiopian military allies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized the outcome of last Friday’s run-off presidential election in Zimbabwe – which went ahead despite international appeals for a postponement given the violence and intimidation that preceded it – as illegitimate. “The outcome did not reflect the true and genuine will of the Zimbabwean people or produce a legitimate result,” Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued June 30 in Tokyo, where the Secretary-General was on an official visit.

The UN and African Union (AU) have appointed the Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Djibril Bassole, as their new Darfur peace envoy. The UN said Bassole will conduct efforts to mediate between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebels from the region’s city of Fasher. He replaces current UN and AU envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim. Recent peace efforts have faltered – armed men held 38 peacekeepers at gunpoint for five hours on June 30.

Last month’s earthquake in Sichuan, China, has caused some USD 6 billion in damage to the province’s agricultural sector, severely affecting over 30 million people in rural communities, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said June 30. The 7.9-magnitude earthquake of May 12 devastated the mountainous Sichuan province, killing an estimated 69,000 people and causing extensive property damage. More than 30 million rural inhabitants lost most of their assets, and thousands of hectares of farmland were destroyed, while millions of farm animals also died.


May 19, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Callous! Mad and utterly callous up to the end!

This is what I can say of the praetorian leaders of Burma. The country has been clearly devastated by the powerful typhoon that razed through the Irrawady area recently, killing past the 100,000 death mark as of a couple of days ago. Humanitarian work had almost halted as the praetorians have focused their efforts more on preparing the electorate for the democratization process and forthcoming polls.

Sure, there is no lack of merit for democratizing Burma and widen the political stream to include state players from among the other competing political parties and interest groups. But to over-focus on  vote-gaining democratization issues at a time of catastrophe, contingency and national mourning for the dead escapes our comprehension and will only lead to a cul de sac of greater catastrophe. For sure the great men U Thant and Aung San must be squirming in their graves right now.   

By ‘more catastrophe’ we don’t only mean deaths on the victims. We mean that, after the typhoon relief tasks are over, and the country indeed moves on to that phase of public choice of new political forces and leaders, the military will be crashed by its own callousness in the relief operations days. Then, unwilling to admit the results of the polls, the praetorians would again move on to crash legitimate efforts to replace the military in power.

Sad! How tragic and sad are the affairs of life in Burma. This once citadel of growth right after Britain left the country in cognition of its full sovereignty, turned into a developmental nightmare of unfathomable poverty when the praetorians took over power through the might of the gun.

“Political power comes from the barrel of the gun,” Mao once declared. Following such a dictum, we may add that “perpetual violence from the barrel of the gun causes more vicious cycles of misery.” That’s my line, fellows, and I’m citing the dictum based on experiences in my own country and elsewhere wherever ceaseless violence happens: more misery and economic collapse.

Meantime, we can only hope that the international pressures on the Burmese praetorians to open up the gates for humanitarian work by international players will be heeded. Strategically, in the long run, the ASEAN may have to equip itself with a regional armed force that can serve as equalizer against any tyrannically abusive political group—topped by the Burmese praetorians and the Khmer Rouge—that only knows how to bring down their respective country to graveyard status after centuries of glorious High Culture and greatness.   

[Writ 19 May 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]