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Against gunboat philanthropy

Bernard Kouchner's proposal to force aid on the Burmese regime is dangerous posturing

By Alex De Waal   June 2008

One month after Cyclone Nargis, millions of Burmese remain with inadequate food, contaminated water and no proper shelter. At least 130,000 have died or gone missing, and the toll from epidemic disease in the coming months could be as high again.

We hear much about the administrative and logistical mire of Burma, of a government denying that disaster has struck and obstructing aid work. We hear about the confiscation of relief supplies. We hear less about the host of local Burmese organisations, often enjoying co-operation from local authorities and supported by a smaller number of international agencies, that are present…

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