With more than 22,000 people reported dead and as many as 1 million homeless after a tropical cyclone that struck Burma over the weekend, 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, according to weather experts.
FTUB, a partner of the AFL-CIO 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. Click here to contribute to help Burmese workers.
United Nations officials say that hundreds of thousands of people are without shelter and clean drinking water after the cyclone, with winds reaching 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. Had the cyclone hit the United States and killed the same percentage of our population, the death total would be more than 140,000.
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, 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.