07
May
08

On air: Do aid agencies sometimes need to take a moral stand?

If you’re in Africa, you’ll have heard John from Ireland in our second edition making a passionate case that aid agencies help undemocratic regimes to stay in power. By assisting people, he argued, they relieve pressure on authorities from inside and outside a country. And by dealing with the authorities, in some way they give validate their position. He argued the aid agencies should’t be Burma. Do you agree?

This doesn’t just apply to what’s happening in Burma. Could the same be said of Zimbabwe and Sudan (and Darfur in particular)?

South Korea’s ‘sunshine policy’ towards North Korea was also questioned for similar reasons.

Your thoughts please.

LATEST FROM BURMA
We’ll hear as many first-hand accounts of what’s happening as possible. We’ll also hear from some of the people on yesterday’s show who are still trying to get hold of loved ones.

Here’s the latest on the cyclone.


80 Responses to “On air: Do aid agencies sometimes need to take a moral stand?”


  1. 1 ZK
    May 7, 2008 at 13:46

    That’s ridiculous. The main aim of aid agencies is to help people who need aid, no? That has to always be the priority of the NGOs. Leave the world’s governments to deal with the political pressure, and you NGOs do your job.

  2. May 7, 2008 at 14:32

    I can understand that argument, but you have to take into account the options and their weighted outcomes.

    Don’t help Burma and take a moral stand, in which thousands of people will die (because of the stubborness of both sides). A tragedy which could otherwise have been avoided had aid been provided. Maybe further down the road it will lead to social unrest and political change from within.

    Help Burma because the government is lacking in its assistance efforts, save lives, deal with the politics later.

    Aid and political agendas of the countries offering a helping hand need to be exclusive issues.

    Regards,
    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. 3 gary
    May 7, 2008 at 14:36

    So, let me get this straight. The argument is: Let’s let people die of hunger, injury, or untreated disease, so as to throw into sharper relief the inhumanity of XYZ country’s evil régime. Is this what’s being suggested? So what happens then? Do the evil régime folks have an attack of morals and stop being evil? Providing aid isn’t about me, it isn’t about you, it isn’t about the evil régime, and it isn’t about political change. It is about providing food, shelter, care and such comforts in tragedy as can be done, to other human beings. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
    g

  4. 4 Nick in USA
    May 7, 2008 at 14:58

    Which aid agencies are we speaking of? Aren’t there several aid agencies that use their political power to put pressure on these regimes? Regardless, I think Brett is right on the money with this one. What would be the result if aid agencies refused to assist the people in these areas? Starvation, civil unrest, and disease, all in the hopes that the government may decide to change their ways. Don’t forget that these governments were allowing these situations to happen before the aid agencies got there, and that is why the aid groups went in the first place.

  5. 5 CarlosK
    May 7, 2008 at 15:28

    Hi WHYS bloggers and producers

    Aid agencies stand on morally sound ground everyday they fulfil their mandate to feed the hungry who have no power or authority to change their present circumstances, i.e. feed themselves. If they start to pick and choose which country’s hungry to feed and which country’s hungry should starve to death, they would no longer stand on morally sound ground but instead fall flat on their faces on the slippery slope of immorality and crimes against humanity which both lead to eternal damnation.

    Anyone who supports this position needs urgent head (psychological) and heart (spiritual) examined and possible surgery.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica

  6. 6 Atsu
    May 7, 2008 at 15:28

    Hi Ros,
    hi everyone.
    There is nothing more immoral than refusing to help a starving population hit by a natural disaster when we could. If those who make such arguments have had their way, european countries like Germany and Italy who brought their own man made disaster i.e the 2nd world war, should have had no marshall plan for reconstruction. If we are ready to provide humanitarian help for people because of man made disasters, what moral standing could we claim if we fail to help people who have natural disasters just because of cheap politics….
    Ciao

    Atsu
    Accra, Ghana.

  7. 7 Jeannie
    May 7, 2008 at 15:29

    Hi WHYS it should not be right it should be be the concern of the Burma
    people to be allowed to be helped then the ones who have any conciense,
    will see that its not about politics, they we are dealing with human beings,
    the country as a whole not individuals wants here. allowing the aid agencies into the country will have an impact.So lets put the differences
    with Burma aside and concentrate solely on helping the people.

  8. 8 Bright
    May 7, 2008 at 15:33

    I am sure the world must find better psychological ways of punishing governments. Witholding aid can be taking a moral stand towards unwanted governments, yet taking an immoral stand towards their people. I am not sure how much aid legitimises the unwanted governments. Give us non-political aid but find a way of empowering the people to deal with their own bad governments.

    Bright Molande
    Zomba
    Malawi

  9. 9 Katharina in Ghent
    May 7, 2008 at 15:34

    I guess Brett, Gary and Nick are right when they say that not helping means watching a lot of people die who were lucky enough to survive the original desaster. But if we send aid there then NGO’s have to be very, very careful that the aid actually goes to the people in need and not to some buddies of the evil regime who also happened to lose their home, and I think that’s where the real problem lies. How can you avoid to be taken advantage of by the people who either created the catastrophy as in Darfur or who do nothing to help their people as in Burma?

  10. 10 Rufaa
    May 7, 2008 at 15:39

    This is quite true. Goverments sometimes get it wrong on who is supposed to assit people in times of natural disaster. Aid agencies take the larger part of the job. Corrupt regimes only act as adoring spectators. And here comes a good case of oppressive yet callous leadership. How would have a poor country like Burma managed to contain the catastrophic cyclone that wreaked havoc in the country if it stood on its previous position?
    Relief Agencies should sometimes take a moral stand, yes. This would help reduce over-dependency on foreign aid so that the leaders can be held accountable. Its time Africa stands on its own toes.

  11. May 7, 2008 at 15:40

    Starving impoverished populations for political reasons is worse than an economic embargo on regime accused of human rights violations Aid agencies should continue their work in every spot as long as they have no political agenda. Their job should be limited to humanitarian issues.

    A regime can fall alone with or without aid if there are no outside forces to back it or when there is an international intervention to topple it.

    Aid agencies should be like médecins sans frontières whose job is to save lives and not to dictate the governments what they should do. This should be the job of international banks like the World Bank which should monitor the loans it offers to despotic and corrupt regimes.

    After all the aids distributed are just hand to mouth. They barely answer the basic necessities like infrastructures for an economic upsurge. At heart, it’s better to see a population under a despotic and corrupt regime survive than to see it starving causing human catastrophes.

    Perhaps, aids agencies should have more autonomy in their distributions. They shouldn’t be under the nose of local authorities that can use the aids just for their own advantages.

    Aid agencies shouldn’t become a political weapon. They should continue as humanitarian agencies, whose sole purpose is to help the needy without any political agenda. As a professional doctor, they should spot the ills and find remedies to them. They shouldn’t seek to equate the political affiliations or non-affiliation of the recipients or that of those governing them to scale how much hand-out should be offered.

    Abdelilah Boukili
    Marrakesh, Morocco

  12. May 7, 2008 at 15:47

    Aid agencies should function as the name implies…AID AGENCIES – they supply aid and should not dabble in political issues.

  13. 13 Laura in Minneapolis
    May 7, 2008 at 15:47

    I was recently just called by WHYS on this topic, and my initial reaction to the question was, “Yeah… i would rather support an agency that takes a moral stand on some issues.”

    I think have to qualify that. In some situations, i.e. emergency situations, there is a need so great that perhaps we must consider helping the people, even if we don’t agree with the government.

    Think of it this way: say situations were reversed. There are very few countries that agree with my country’s governmental decisions… if there were some sort of massive natural disaster I would feel completely abandoned by the world community if they decided to not help just because they’re not big fans of the Bush Administration.

    So yes, I would rather give my money to an organization that takes a moral stand, but in some situations the global community should perhaps rise above these political issues and help people who are suffering.

    A person in need is a person in need is a person in need, whether they call the UK or Burma home is irrelevant in many situations.

    Always,
    Laura in Minneapolis

  14. 14 VictorK
    May 7, 2008 at 15:49

    This is Western liberalism at its most self-righteous, arrogant and destructive.

    What gives any aid agency – or any other Western institution – the right to dictate the political terms on which other people should live? Nothing. If people are without food, warmth or shelter, how will withholding these benefit them, except through some inhuman calculation about so many million deaths being a necessary trigger for ‘democratic change’. 99 people out of 100 prefer food to democracy, and the 100th who doesn’t is probably crazy. Give the people what they want.

    If the authorities in a disaster-struck country have the means to cope with the disaster what’s the issue? If they don’t, then not providing aid will not make them feel particularly pressured. Some regimes are serious about holding onto power and will see any number of people die rather than give it up. Pressure may work when dealing with rational and civilised protagonists, but what of a deluded and half-mad despot like Robert Mugabe, or a vindictively evil regime like Sudan’s? Such naivety!

    This kind of moral posturing will certainly make people like John from Ireland feel good about their own virtue and high-mindedness, even if it is at the cost of other people’s lives. He should have a look at Iraq for a reminder of how well-intentioned blueprints for spreading democracy and freedom through coercion always go perfectly to plan.

    He’d have been on much stronger ground if he’d couched his argument in terms of the system of political asylum. That often acts to relieve the political pressure that a regime might otherwise be forced to come to terms with. But withholding aid to those who need it is just sadism dressed up as humanitarian concern.

  15. 15 Chukwuma
    May 7, 2008 at 15:55

    yes, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.

    funds are often diverted to fighting wars and other dysfunctional, non productive actvities.

    institutions and individual competencies need to be constantly enhanced to monitor the utilization of funds.

    Thanks.

    Chukwuma Ogbonna, Abuja Nigeria.

  16. 16 Jerry
    May 7, 2008 at 15:56

    Hey Ros, Jerry Nguwa from Nairobi here. I would like to react on the aid issue. Undemocratic regimes are lead by political classes constituted of extremely mean individual who rule by terrorising their own people for the purpose of enriching themeselves living their people with nothing but fear, hunger, trauma, complex of inferiority. Aid agency cross boders to help the traumatised fearfull hungry people not the ruling elite. By saying that aid given maintains the undemocratic fellow in power we really miss the point. Look at zimbabwe, Mugabe is a very rich guy. With or without foreign aid his family will always have food on the table and niceties for smart guarding dogs. But the common guy from old mutare(south) can’t afford maize(imported from malawi) to feed his familly how much do you think he will thank the sky if an international organisation offer to pay school fees for his daughter aged 8? By refusing to allow fuel in the country, do you expect to see mugabe queuing for the next bus? The one who suffers is the commuter. Let not kill or let people die in the name of putting pressure on selfish leaders we are killing innocent people instead. God bless undemocratic countries. My heartfelt condolences to the burmese nation.

    PS: I managed to put my detractors out of my way.

  17. 17 Kwabena
    May 7, 2008 at 15:56

    Regimes such as in Burma, North Korea and Zimbabwe care less about the welfare of its ordinary citizens. A moral stance by aid agencies will only hurt the people much in need of the help and not the greedy regimes willing to even wipe out its citizens to stay in power.

  18. 18 John in Salem
    May 7, 2008 at 15:57

    If you’re an aid agency your mission is to alleviate suffering without regard to local politics. If the people you are helping are being oppressed then just keep in mind that sick and hungry people can’t overthrow bad governments (which is the reason such governments resist aid).

  19. 19 Bob in Queensland
    May 7, 2008 at 16:14

    The erroneous assumption in “John from Ireland’s” case is that a natural disaster such as that in Burma will automatically put pressure on the ruling regime. This is not necessarily the case. The result could just as easily be to weaken what opposition there is by causing them to become pre-occupied with the basic human needs of staying alive. If you have no food, water or shelter are you really concerned with the human rights record of those in power?

    On the other hand, contact with outsiders will inevitably result in communication and and exchanges of views–which is why I suspect the Burmese government doesn’t want outside aid workers in the country.

  20. 20 thelegendali
    May 7, 2008 at 16:17

    John should understand that dictators are wicked set of people who don’t care about the survival of the people whom thay rule. Therefore to argue that aid agencies should not operated in countries that have dictators as rulers is to argue that the world should sit and watch the poor and suffering masses to perish which will be to the likings of the dictators.

  21. 21 Jens
    May 7, 2008 at 16:20

    i am sure all the aid will be given to the people in need and not some corrupt buddies of the goverment, who then use it to make a quick buck on the side.

    hell wake-up from your dream. all totalitarien regimes are corrupt to the core, that is the only way for them to survive. the best way for them to control the masses is keeping them ill-informed and ill-fed…..

  22. 22 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 7, 2008 at 17:20

    The structure & foundation of aid agencies are moral, if some one is trying to use these agencies for there political benifits this is immoral.
    Serving humanbeings on purely humaniterian grounds is greater then any other object of life.

  23. 23 Scott Millar
    May 7, 2008 at 17:46

    + Do we let some people die to help many others later? Yes, if we knew for sure it would. But, usually we don’t. So I say, no.

    + There is a point to be made though, by asking the question. By giving aid, we are acknowledging there is a problem, and by proxy providing aid means we are taking a moral stand against the malfunction of the government. Yet, we are actually doing nothing to fix the cause—we just provide a temporary fix to the result of a larger problem.

    + So, if we want to help more people long-term wouldn’t it make sense to address the cause of their problems? But perhaps this is not within the scope or mission of an aid organization.

    – Portland, Oregon

  24. 24 Jeni
    May 7, 2008 at 17:46

    As a member of the aid community, we daily make moral choices. non are easy.
    we do make it easier for governments to ignore the problems. But before we help those problems exist already.
    we cannot ignore that people, families and children are suffering. Politics mean little to a starving child.
    I challenge anyone who wishes aid agencies to stop their work in desperate communities for political reasons to go to that area.
    Look that child in the eye and tell them they have to die because their government is corrupt. Imagine if that were your child.

  25. 25 Anthony
    May 7, 2008 at 17:48

    I think Aid isn’t given the right way, like Africas AIDs aid. They give money to prolong peoples lives, who just turn around and spread the virus more. That doesn’t make any sense and is a waste of money.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  26. 26 archibald in oregon
    May 7, 2008 at 17:50

    Is there really a discussion here. If aid agencies take on the role of moral judge they will most certainly nullify their ability to access said totalitarian regimes. Now, they can at least help some of the people, as opposed to helping none. That said, it is totally outrageous that any gov’t would slow or deny aid to its people and pressure must be applied, just not by an accepted neutral aid agency.

  27. May 7, 2008 at 17:55

    Yes they do have to. E.g In sri lanka the so called democratic governments prevented aids reaching the tamil population in a very discrminatory manner during the aftermath of tsunami.In fact I have mentioned this in my mail with regard to aid to Burma.
    Aid agencies should not aid and abet discrimination by commissions and ommissions, dirctly or indirectly, witingly or unwitigly.

  28. 28 Jonny
    May 7, 2008 at 18:07

    I understand John’s position and what he must see as a cycle of futility. But, NGOs becoming a political instrument – as many others have said – is a dangerous path. It’s not just dealing with corrupt third world regimes, the West also is not innocent. Would the Burmese regime continue to exist if France’s Total wasn’t pumping natural resources through Burma’s jungles?

    Aid to the people must continue; what needs to change is the public must become vigilant, loud, and incapable of tolerating grave injustice.

  29. May 7, 2008 at 18:08

    On air: Do aid agencies sometimes need to take a moral stand?

    In our age of secularism, nihilism, radical materialism, private capitalism, globalism and the repudiation of God and religion, under the separation of church and state, we have to first define what is intended when “moral” is used. To prove my case: Is imposing the so-called democracy on a sovereign, independent and free state and nation, in a world where the equality of all men and states, as well human and cultural rights are, or, should be the moral bases for international laws and relationships among world states moral?

    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  30. 30 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 7, 2008 at 18:09

    I agree with many of you. Aid agencies should be non-politacal and if possible non-religious. They should of course report any wrong doing they encounter.

    I would perhaps likie to give something but who can I trust.? A lady interviewed yesterday from Burma asked people not to send money as would go into “the government’s pockets”.

  31. 31 Janet T
    May 7, 2008 at 18:12

    I think the only way to more towards a better world for all, is to remove the politics and moral stands from aid groups. If your purpose is to provide food/shelter/comfort etc… then do so and leave the politics to the politicians- As I said yesterday- anything else is blackmail

  32. 32 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    May 7, 2008 at 18:13

    When it comes in helping people the politics should not come in the play. In the current situation in Burma the military government is placing restriction on the aid agencies and the aid is not getting to the people. I do not understand why the government does not want to help the people. Can some one can explain that to me?

    I can understand Johns concern, however, when aid is given and it gets to the people who needed, we need to help regardless of the government.

  33. May 7, 2008 at 18:15

    What morality and who are they to take a moral high ground to impose on whom. No country, not even the Vatican can claim they are clean. But every westerner are getting ready to cast the 1st stone. Iraq was attack for the wrong reason resulting in anarchy. China for its good intention is condemn by the world. Vietnam and now Cuba prefer the slow path to reform ,who is to say they are wrong. Leave Robert Mugabe alone and he will come to his senses. Like Kim Jong ll they like to act tough and the west interference are giving them the opportunity.

  34. 34 Pieray
    May 7, 2008 at 18:23

    In our age of secularism, nihilism, radical materialism, private capitalism, globalism and the repudiation of God and religion, under the separation of church and state, we have to first define what is intended when “moral” is used. To prove my case: Is imposing the so-called democracy on a sovereign, independent and free state and nation, in a world where the equality of all men and states, as well human and cultural rights are, or, should be the moral bases for international laws and relationships among world states moral?

    Prince Pieray, Lagos, Nigeria

  35. 35 Noah
    May 7, 2008 at 18:26

    Lets say i agree with John. What would Johns view be if he were knee deep in Myanmar, cold and hungry. Lets also say the world decides to stop aid “for the betterment in the long term perspective”? I sincerely doubt he will live long enough to see that change or result. The dying don’t care about politics and results they just want food and shelter. As for the dead, what can i say?

    Noah, Oregon, USA

  36. May 7, 2008 at 18:27

    HELLO to all of you my Precious friends… The ONLY moral stand that all aid agencies all around the world must take is to help by all means those poor human beings who need urgently alleviation of their suffering and misery REGARDLESS of any political considerations… With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  37. 37 Allan
    May 7, 2008 at 18:28

    I don’t think anyone is answering the question directly. Is it ok to provide aid, knowing that the leader of Burma may, or may not use the money for the people and not his regime?

    Allan, Ohio

  38. 38 Jens
    May 7, 2008 at 18:34

    Peter,

    the vatican is probably the one country/organization that has to answer for some of the worst attrocities and poverty on this planet. ever visited the vatican? the gold an riches are obscence in light of the ravishing poverty on this planet.

  39. 39 Sean
    May 7, 2008 at 18:39

    I have been listening to your discussion regarding the human rights issue. I do agree with John’s sentiments to some extent to not helping the Burmese government. Is this not a issue for the big brother of the world. IE the US to send a warship / aircraft carrier and tell the Burmese goverment you are going in to help and then send in the helicopters and hell with them. The only problem with this is that the US probably won’t leave. so maybe Mr Sarcosie (sp?) should put his money where his mouth is and send his warships and men to faciltate the aid agencies?

    Just a thought.

    Sean, Bahrain

  40. 40 Judy
    May 7, 2008 at 18:42

    I think that humanitarian organizations and workers ARE taking a moral and ethical stand. They are putting the value of human life above politics. If they criticized oppressive governments they wouldn’t be able to do what they do. It is inherent in what they do that they do not condone oppressive practices.

    If the world community stands by without helping in these horrible disasters, what are we in effect modeling? In my mind that would be as morally corrupt as the oppressive policies in place in non- democratic societies.

    Judy
    California
    USA

  41. 41 Samirah
    May 7, 2008 at 18:43

    I ask a question to the learned people imposing restriction on aid to Burma just to made the military regime think.

    Does it really matter to the military government in a country like Burma whether or not the poor man get aide and help? Does it really matter to them how many people die? Ask me the answer is no. Burma is a lower ecomonic country where majority of the population can bearly afford food on their own or earn living on their own. In such a country, where people dont have a say or power to talk or even the strength to revolt, the cruel government (which is at present) would just care if the death toll was 55,000 or even 150,000

    Doesnt make a difference to them. So why make the poor suffer, when it beats your concept of restriction.

    Samirah, Dubai

  42. 42 Scott Millar
    May 7, 2008 at 18:43

    + Isn’t taking a moral stand against a corrupt irresponsible government an attempt at helping the people?

    – Portland, Oregon

  43. 43 Jon
    May 7, 2008 at 18:44

    People like John are very necessary, as they remind us that we are not only up against devastating natural disasters and egregious dictatorships, but also people who will play the intellectual dilletante while the most vulnerable people sink into a state of even greater desperation.

    John would do well to remember that the long-running conflict in Aceh was resolved largely as a result of the Asian tsunami, without the need for NGOs to decide they should stand aloof and sacrifice even more people for a frankly dubious theory. It’s a preposterous notion, John – save it for the pub!

    The other Irish Jon-
    Barcelona

  44. 44 Hannah
    May 7, 2008 at 18:44

    Aid organizations should aid countries that need immediate help for events that are beyond control like a cyclone. To say that groups should not aid non-democratic areas is to say that men should not aid women because they are not men. It is a fine line to end aid when the immediate crisis has passed so as not to enable poor care of ones own country, but as humans it is a risk we ought to take and shakey ground we ought to tread on in the name of perseving eachother.
    Hannah
    Minneapolis MN
    USA

  45. 45 Scott
    May 7, 2008 at 18:47

    + Do we let some people die to help many others later? Yes, if we knew for sure it would. But, usually we don’t. So I say, no.

    + There is a point to be made though, by asking the question. By giving aid, we are acknowledging there is a problem, and by proxy providing aid means we are taking a moral stand against the malfunction of the government. Yet, we are actually doing nothing to fix the cause—we just provide a temporary fix to the result of a larger problem.

    + So, if we want to help more people long-term wouldn’t it make sense to address the cause of their problems? But perhaps this is not within the scope or mission of an aid organization.

    Scott, Portland, Oregon

  46. 46 Zak
    May 7, 2008 at 18:48

    It seems clearly obvious that in absence of the ability to negotiate peace or even recognize the government in the country by most western countries exemplified by even the use of the name ‘Burma’ that the only way for those western countries to help is to use a forcible measure. But if the government is able to find aid elsewhere then it’s up to the rest to bow out and let them handle it. And if force is used then the only justification is a continuing measure to prevent the same situation from arising following another such disaster.

  47. 47 Thea Winter - Indianapolis
    May 7, 2008 at 18:49

    Allan, I agree with you to a point. I think the leaders in Burma may take the money and aid for themselves. However, if the international community and the UN comes into play maybe the poeple in Burma will get the aid to them. We should not just stop trying.

  48. 48 Hannah
    May 7, 2008 at 18:50

    Helping countries with money when we can not be certain that it will go where it belongs is always a risk, physical aid is generally preferred in those situations. But when money is the only option, it is sometimes worth the risk.

  49. 49 Andrew
    May 7, 2008 at 18:51

    On the one hand you can make the case that by providing aid you inadvertantly maintain a corrupt regime. But equally you can say that by making a stand and not helping when you should after a natural disaster then you erode your credibility with the people on the ground who are suffering and in the long run they will not value you or your values as a liberal and free society.

    Andrew, Australia

  50. 50 Jitan
    May 7, 2008 at 18:52

    If selling weapons is not detrimental and doing trade in dictatorship countries is not detrimental, then how can helping somebody to stop dying that too in such a time of need be detrimental?

    Come on people how selfish has the 1st world one become?

    Jitan, New York

  51. 51 Josimar
    May 7, 2008 at 18:53

    It is a very difficult position that the Burmese authorities have placed itself in. By locking out the media, Burma is preventing a fair evaluation of the assistance needed in Burma. By locking out Aid Agencies it may cause escalation of more problems to the health of citizens and may even stimulate protest and rebellion.

    Josimar, Kingston, Jamaica

  52. 52 Momodu Wudie- Sierra Leone
    May 7, 2008 at 18:56

    The main thrust of aid agencies is to provide for the poor. This should be done without discrimination. This is the driving force for aid agencies and it should be done devoid of politics. Politics is for politician and humanitarian aid is for aid agencies and vice vasa.

  53. 53 Dee in Chicago
    May 7, 2008 at 18:59

    We must impose restrictions on donations. If we do not, the likelihood of those in need receiving aid is questionable. This is a chance to help improve the future of the Burmese people.

  54. 54 A. in Oregon
    May 7, 2008 at 19:02

    Most people who work with NGOs in Burma find out very quickly that the quickest way to get anything done for the people is to work with the government, and not against it.

    I have friends there who I still don’t know the condition or fate of. I only found out yesterday that my close family there are (probably) alright. The idea of not helping my friends and family after a disaster of this magnitude is ridiculous, as I’m sure it would be to anyone who knew someone directly effected by this storm. Yes, there will be some aid that trickles to the governmental cronies–but this is, to me, acceptable, if we help to save the lives of those who don’t have as much, and never did.

    And if you still can’t seperate the human cost in lives from the outcome of the regime, think of it this way: the more people who live through this, having seen the government’s slow response and blundering about in the aftermath, the more people can vote ‘no’ on the upcoming referendum.

  55. 55 Yakubu by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:09

    Please U.N, make sure that AID is reaching the needy, forget about the Burma gover ment.

    Yakubu, Dawaki,Gombe state, Nigeria.

  56. 56 Daniel by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:14

    Aid agencies shouldn’t be bothered with internationalopinion. Their objective transcends governments. Politics has no place in NGO operations.

    daniel in Ghana.

  57. 57 Mansour by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:26

    THE UN AND THE INTERNATIONAL SHOULD DO MORE TO HELP THE VICTIMS OF THE CYCLONE IN BURMA.
    FROM MANSOUR OF MONROVIA.

  58. 58 Akin by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:27

    Taking a moral stand will deny much needed help to the most vulnerable segment of the population. As humans, we owe humanity the debt of assistance regardless of whether a terrible regime stands to benefit or not. Akin Adu, Lagos.

  59. 59 tlotlo galiemelwe (bc)
    May 7, 2008 at 19:28

    in response to the question posed,being aid should not be politicised because it will perpuate and keep dictatorships alive because these dictatorships will misuse these aid resources and not deliver it to who the aid was intended.I say when it comes to disaster aid for a disaster as catastrophic and on such a mass scale as we see with the Mynmar cyclone where 100,000 are predicted dead and millions homless this is simply not true. Dictatorships oppress minorties,being the pro-democracy in Mynmars case and as long as the opposition remain a minority then the dictatorship can oppress them and survive but what dictatorships fear are “CRITICAL MASS” which is when the majority join the minority in mass revolt and this exactly what will occur if the mynmar goverement doesnt deliver diaster aid to its devasted people,the people of mynmar would put their political ideoligies aside and unite in mass revolt against a goverement that intentionally holds aid and in actual fact lets its own people die on a mass scale and will remove the junta with sheer power of numbers,so even with just virtue of its own survival dictactorships will deliver aid to its people because they understand that mass oppression means mass revolt and that will surely equal their end.

  60. 60 Shuaibu by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:28

    The action of the military Goverment in Burma is not surprising. I believe they are tryin to be careful with the aid agencies, USA & European for safety reasons.
    Shuaibu from Nigeria

  61. 61 Brian by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:29

    Aid MUST still be sent no matter what is going on politically in a country. If no aid is sent, the problem will get worse not better. Shaking fists at each other over the ruins of Burma will not fix the problem. Brian in Namibia.

  62. 62 Daniel by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:29

    By john’s logic anyone living in an unfree nation isn’t worthy of our assistance. Humanitarian assistance has no political bounds and shouldn’t be contingent on a govt’s policies.
    Daniel in Ghana

  63. 63 Wambi Mike by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:47

    Agent solution for Burma is regime change before aid. Wambi Mike, Kampala, Uganda.

  64. 64 Mugisha by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:48

    Please john put politics aside, save lives first. What if it was his family? what would he say? Please help the people of Burma.

    MUGISHA IN GULU UGANDA.

  65. 65 Musa by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:49

    If the authorities respond well to the crisis, does that not gain it legitimacy? Musa, sierra leone.

  66. 66 Abdi-Rizak by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:49

    It always happens that those autocratic regime are given aid.

    ABDI-RIZAK FROM SOMALIA.

  67. 67 Mahamed by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:50

    Aid agencies should focus on the needy civilians. The regime and its dependants are always that swallow the last food available intead of malnourished children.

    Mahamed, Somalia

  68. 68 John by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:50

    How can an advocacy agency like oxfam think it can be seen as apolitical? It can’t have it both ways.
    John. Malawi

  69. 69 Chimaobi by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:51

    If disaster like [Hurricane] Katerina happen all over America, is it right to deny them help because of their government’s policies in the Mid-East & Iraq?

    Chimaobi from Nigeria.

  70. 70 Akan by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:52

    SO MANY AID AGENCIES ARE NOT JUST POLITICAL BUT EXPLOITATIVE. THEY INSTIGATE CRISIS BEHIND THE SCENE THEN SWING IN AND MAKE MONEY
    AKAN, NIGERIA

  71. 71 Joshua by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:55

    The peace loving peoples of the world should forget politic and feed the starving people of Burma.

    Joshua of Liberia.

  72. 72 Ami by text
    May 7, 2008 at 19:58

    Political neutrality is important even for longer term aid programs. For example, peace corps volunteers around the world are forbidden from participating in politics. We live among the local population, provide aid, & even encourage civic participation, but always remain neutral. This can be difficult, but is essential to building & maintaining trust.

    Ami (pc volunteer in Niger)

  73. 73 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 7, 2008 at 21:04

    Hi Ros & WHYS!

    I listened to the programme today and was decidely uncomfortable with the position of the representative from the aid agency who was making the case that aid agencies should take a moral stance vis-a-vis the Burma disaster. I am curious to know where is the morality in withholding the distribution of aid to people in dire circumstances because of a moral opposition to the politics/ philosophy of the leadership of said country? Is this not a case of punishing the vulnerable for being vulnerable? How immoral!

    There needs to be a separation of the importance of politics in situations where people are either dead or near dead and our basic human dignity. The fact that one is in a very powerful position to the extent that one is able to influence the lives of others, especially when they are at their most vulnerable, does not give one such a right! This is wrong! How can we be so casual about human suffering? Or, is this because it is in the “Developing World” where the immediacy and gravity of the problem is forgotten long after news of the disaster has receded from international headlines?

    There has to be a more humane way of making one’s point about opposition to cruel dictatorships, rather than withholding food and other necessary supplies to poor, hungry, dying and desperate people in especially challenging circumstances!

  74. 74 CarlosK
    May 7, 2008 at 21:12

    @ Jens

    I agree with your stance re the Vatican.

    The people living in opulence such as king (pope) Benefict the XIV and his court will have to give account to God for wasting (wearing and decorating with gold, silver, diamon and other precious and priceless jewellery etc. ) his “talent” while the poor and hungry starve to death daily.

    There is coming a day of reckoning for us all. It is going to be a season of “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” as the good “old book” states. May God have mercy on us all.

    Carlos

  75. 75 tlotlo galiemelwe (bc)
    May 7, 2008 at 22:00

    in response to the question posed,being aid should not be politicised because it will perpuate and keep dictatorships alive because these dictatorships will misuse these aid resources and not deliver it to who the aid was intended.I say when it comes to disaster aid for a disaster as catastrophic and on such a mass scale as we see with the Myanmar cyclone,where 100,000 are predicted dead and millions homless this is simply not true. Dictatorships oppress minorties,being the pro-democracy in Myanmars case and as long as the opposition remain a minority then the dictatorship can oppress them and survive but what dictatorships fear are “CRITICAL MASS” which is when the majority join the minority in mass revolt and this is exactly what will occur if the maynmar goverement doesnt deliver disaster aid to its devasted people,the people of maynmar would put their political ideologies aside and unite in mass revolt against a goverement that intentionally holds aid and in actual fact lets its own people die on a mass scale and will remove the junta with sheer power of numbers,so even with just virtue of its own survival and self-preservation dictactorships will deliver aid to its people because they understand that mass oppression means mass revolt and that will surely equal their end.

  76. 76 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 7, 2008 at 22:06

    If aid agencies take a stand against regime’s then a Pandora’s box of problems will be opened..
    Currently the International community of the Red Cross has access to regions of the world where other agencies and the international community are prevented from assisting in. There work is invaluable to the survival of these people whilst a diplomatic solution is being sought. If the Red Cross was perceived to be supporting the political wishes of the international community, then their operations could be severely restricted as these regimes attempt to maintain control. The current situation as it stands may not be the best, but it is either
    1. Take a neutral stance and gain access to those affected or
    2. Take a political stance and the destitute suffer.

    Personally, I believe preservation of human life above all else is the important choice and as such, I do not believe that aid agencies should start to play politics because the only persons who will be hurt are those too weak to fight anyway.

  77. May 8, 2008 at 03:54

    Charitable aid is a moral principle and not a political one.

    Let me express this fact in this manner, a Charitable Agency is not a political platform to spring from. To interfere politically, a Charitable Agency might not be allowed into a Country to give to the needs of the suffering.

    A example of one such a Charitable Agency. “Doctors without boarders” was barred from a country because a County’s Government was using that Charitable Agency for spying purposes.

  78. 78 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 8, 2008 at 22:25

    Aid agencies are charities and not political providers…..

    Dennis~Madrid, United States of America

  79. May 9, 2008 at 12:18

    in heloing the people in need we should not be dissucing about morality.we should go and help as fast as possible.rather than showing willingness to help and also giving irrevelant advice as bush and laura.now i am sure that bush is silliest person to rule america till date.

  80. May 12, 2008 at 11:11

    mm yes

    aid agnecies are just that aid agencies which should not be used as a political handgun to bring down undemocratic nations.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: