Monday, May 12, 2008

Cyclone Nargis in Burma: How You Can Help

Dear Friends:

I can barely read the news from Burma any more.

In Sunday's Reuters' story, the United Nations estimates that up to nearly 2 million people have had their lives ripped apart by Cyclone Nargis. The UN reports that "the number of deaths could range from 63,290 to 101,682, and 220,000 people are reported to be missing."

The cyclone was the first disaster. The second - and worse - disaster is the Burmese military junta's playing power politics with the aid provided by the international community. That why when I hear that 220,000 are missing, I fully expect that the junta will just let them die.

And you are still not seeing the full extent of the destruction and death. Why? Because the military regime is working hard to keep journalists - and even humanitarian aid workers - out of the country.

That is not even the worst of it. Incredibly, the junta used its troops and security personnel this weekend to hold a rigged "referendum" on its constitution that would perpetuate its military rule. Any other government would have had the compassion to delay a vote and deploy its forces to help the victims of the disaster.

There comes a time when you have to draw a line in the sand. We must not let Burma's generals cross the line this time.

Many friends have asked me how they can help the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. I urge you to contribute to both immediate and medium-term aid through the U.S. Campaign for Burma.

The U.S. Campaign for Burma is accepting donations that will be passed through 100% to organizations working effectively in Burma.

First of all, people need drinking water now. Thirst Aid is already on the ground providing water tablets and purifiers. The organization is run by two amazing Americans who already have the visas for full access to Burma. Moreover, they have a well-established network inside the country to provide access to fresh drinking water.

Secondly, the U.S Campaign for Burma is providing monetary assistance for a number of exceptional Burmese organizations working inside the country. I cannot be more specific for risk of jeopardizing their work and their lives. They are providing assistance directly to those people who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

Finally, the U.S. Campaign for Burma is helping to organize effective pressure to force the Burmese junta to allow aid into the country without conditions. We have already helped organized demonstrations and set up an email campaign to put pressure on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council to take effective action. You can take part through our website action.

Please give generously to the U.S. Campaign for Burma. You can specify exactly how much you donate to Cyclone Nargis relief work and how much you donate to fuel our crucial campaign of pressure on the Burma's generals. We need both to help the Burmese people.

Please go to our website now. Give money, take action, and sign up for news and action alerts at:

I cannot fully explain how frustrated I am personally. Hundreds of thousands of people in Burma are running out of water, food, and medicine. But the junta will not allow the international community to help.

I appreciate all of your support and please keep the people of Burma in your hearts and minds.

Simon Billenness
Co-chair of the Board of Directors
U.S. Campaign for Burma

(202) 234-8022 (USCB office)
(617) 596-6158 (personal cell)

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