Burma Partnership, Strengthening Cooperation for a Free Burma
Signup Now!
Join our mailing list for latest news and information about Burma.

Shan State Earthquake Victims in Need of Urgent Relief Effort

By Burma Partnership  •  March 28, 2011

On 24 March, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Loimwe, Shan State, causing many deaths and significant destruction to homes and buildings in the area. Affected communities are in great need of humanitarian assistance as they begin to address the damage and rebuild their lives. It is imperative that Burma’s regime and local authorities facilitate the delivery of timely and unimpeded relief in a transparent manner.

As of 27 March, state-run media was reporting the official death toll from the quake as 74. However, eyewitness reports suggested that more than 150 people were killed. Many of the casualties are from Tarlay, where almost every building was damaged and many collapsed. The quake destroyed at least 240 buildings, including houses and monasteries. Townships hit included Mong Yaung, Naryaung, Mong Yaung, Tachilek and Ta Lur townships.

In May 2008, authorities responded to the devastation of Cyclone Nargis as a possible threat to their regime, rather than a rapidly unfolding humanitarian catastrophe. The regime’s initial refusal to allow much needed international aid into the Irrawaddy Delta worsened an already terrible crisis, in which more than 138,000 people died. While 2.4 million people were struggling to survive in the aftermath of the cyclone, the military regime held a referendum in which they claim 93% of the people supported the undemocratic military-drafted constitution. The regime arrested individuals and harassed organizations attempting to provide assistance to those in need. For more information about the regime’s obstruction of Cyclone Nargis assistance, please visit our website here.

Initial reports after Thursday’s earthquake indicate that authorities continue to favor control over rapid and open aid delivery. Damage may be far worse than authorities have suggested. Authorities have also reportedly turned away foreign aid. Local authorities in Mae Sai, Thailand, claimed that officials in Tachilek on the Burma side of the border had banned journalists and were refusing entry to foreign doctors. Burma Army troops were allowing access into Tarlay only to those returning to search for relatives.

Unnecessary restrictions on information and aid exacerbate the suffering of disaster survivors. Communities in Shan State deserve and require an unhindered relief response from authorities, international relief organizations, and the international community.

Burma’s regime must ensure that difficult to access, quake-hit areas receive immediately the support they desperately need. Authorities must utilize transparent means and make certain that domestic and international assistance directly and solely benefits affected communities.

Tags: , , , ,

This post is in: Blog

Related Posts
Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice
Burma Army Displays Blatant Disregard for 21st Century Panglong Peace Process
Ann Din Coal Power Plant: Local Movement and Action to Preserve and Protect Natural Resources and Land: Mon IDP Report Case Study #4
Latest Human Rights Abuse Case Demonstrates Urgent Need to Reform the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
Human Rights Far From Guaranteed as US Sanctions on Burma Are Removed