Myanmar, a south-eastern country in Asia, set between Thailand, China, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, has a population of more than 50 million people, and is home to more than 100 ethnic groups. The Irrawaddy River is the country’s largest, and is its most important commercial waterway.
Asia and the rest of the world is facing a heavier than usual monsoon season, bringing with it heavy rain. On August 6th, Myanmar’s President, Thein Sein, called for an evacuation of the low-lying areas near the Irrawaddy River. The water is threatening to break the embankment, and the residents only have sandbags to hold back the waters. So far, 88 people have died, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced due to the floods.
What’s most unusual about Myanmar’s situation is that they are reaching out to the rest of the world, and asking for assistance. Myanmar, in the past, has refused foreign help, even during disasters, like the 2008 Cyclone Nargis. During this severe tropical storm, more than 130,000 people lost their lives and the country sustained more than 10 billion dollars in damage. The country eventually allowed assistance in the form of food, medicine and other supplies, but refused workers or military to enter their country to help in aide. The acceptance of assistance now has become a political hot button in Myanmar, just months before elections.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Myanmar. Its story is one to learn from, and its citizens are those to keep in our thoughts and prayers.