In The News
Global unions work to help cyclone victimsUpdated May 17
With 78,000 confirmed dead and more than 50,000 missing, and a million feared homeless after a tropical cyclone struck Burma over the first weekend in May, the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) has issued an urgent plea to the global union movement for aid in launching rescue, relief and rehabilitation work for victims of the storm.
The cyclone was the worst to hit Asia in almost 20 years.
FTUB is a partner of the AFL-CIO in www.solidaritycenter.org.
The Solidarity Center plans to use relief fund contributions to distribute clothing, medicine, and non-perishable food for displaced workers and their families, build temporary shelters and assist in providing needed counseling and health clinics. It takes contributions online through a secure connection.
In the cyclone, winds reached 150 miles per hour, knocked out power and phone lines, leveled thousands of homes and left entire communities under water.
To put the scale of the destruction in perspective, Burma has a population of more than 47 million.
Consider if a tragedy of this magnitude had taken place with the same percentages in the United States.
The repressive military rulers of the country now known as Myanmar have been slow to respond to the human suffering, putting more pressure on groups like the Solidarity Center.
By late May, however the ruling junta was apparently letting aid through and showing a responsive face to the suffering, even as corpses routinely floated past reporters on the scene.
FTUB General Secretary U Maung Maung says: “We are very concerned by the havoc caused against the people of Burma. The storm has left much loss of homes, lives and properties in its wake.”
“Although neighboring countries have responded quickly with food, clothing and medical supplies, the flooding and military controls prevent them from reaching those who need them most. In addition, the cyclone has devastated Burma’s rice crop, which was to feed not only its own people, but also those of impoverished Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”