Amanda Ripley

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Resilience in Myanmar

29th Jun 2008 posted in General

Some reports coming out of Myanmar suggests that the expected second catastrophe there may not come to pass. Thankfully, there doesn’t appear to be a huge aftershock of disease and death. So the estimated 84,537 people killed during the cyclone itself will probably make up the bulk of the total casualties.

This is a challenging thing to report, given how closed Myanmar remains to outside aid organizations and reporters. But the fundamental point about the resilience of the locals is worth investigating further. From a recent AP story:

“The concept of ‘helpless victims’ is a myth the disaster relief community has been trying to dispel since at least the 1990s, said Alistair Henley, regional head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies based in Malaysia.”

I hope we can one day learn what the locals did for themselves. It would have been far more humane for the government to have let more aid workers in much faster. But it’s still worth finding out what the rest of us can learn from the experiences of an isolated population accustomed to being on its own in the worst of times.