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An Effective Response to the Burma Tragedy

May 2008

On Friday night (May 2), a massive cyclone (hurricane) hit Burma. U.S. embassy officials now estimate the death toll may well climb to 100,000. Hundreds of thousands are homeless, without water and food prices have skyrocketed.

Worse, the military regime, which did practically nothing to warn the Burmese people of the cyclone, is still not opening the country to international aid in any significant way. This behavior is consistent with the military regime’s denial of access for aid agencies to help victims of the military regime’s war on civilians in eastern Burma.

Grassroots International currently does not work in Burma or Southeast Asia but our Staff, Board and supporters recognize that donors’ generous responses to help those in need must be sensitive to the ongoing struggles for social and economic justice and human rights in Burma.

For those Grassroots International donors and colleagues who wish to directly support progressive groups working in the region, we wish to suggest that you consider the United States Campaign for Burma‘s urgent call for major, emergency assistance. As the US Campaign for Burma points out, it is critical that this assistance goes to the victims of the cyclone and not the notoriously corrupt military regime.

The Campaign has set up a mechanism on its website so that you can help if you want to make direct donations to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Please go to to make a donation, get updates on the cyclone, and on Burma. The Cyclone Nargis relief fund that the Campaign has set up will go to intermediate relief to help people in rebuilding their communities and homes, and will especially try and fill the gaps where other aid agencies are not able to assist.

As the Campaign states:

The people of Burma will be rebuilding their lives for a long time, and these funds will go directly to organizations inside Burma, led by Burmese who are working to help the people. For security purposes we cannot disclose who these groups are ( in the past the military regime has arrested those who accept international support). We will keep no overhead and 100% of the donations will go to the people of Burma.

The United States Campaign for Burma is a U.S.-based membership organization dedicated to empowering grassroots activists around the world to bring about an end to the military dictatorship in Burma. Through public education, leadership development initiatives, conferences, and advocacy campaigns at local, national and international levels, USCB works to empower Americans and Burmese dissidents-in-exile to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights in Burma and raise awareness about the egregious human rights violations committed by Burma’s military regime.

The United Nations World Food Programme has also begun a special operation to make emergency donations of food. You can donate to its efforts at

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