Wednesday, November 21, 2007


We're grieving for all the cyclone victims in Bangladesh... the people who were washed away or buried under trees and buildings, as well as those who survived the storm just to die from hunger or water-borne disease in the following weeks. Articles in the paper quote local and international politicians who say that the loss of life and property is 'shocking'. Why is it shocking? Has there ever been a cyclone in Bangladesh which didn't cause tremendous amounts of death and suffering? Why are we shocked that the same thing happened again this time? What's really shocking is that we (the country of Bangladesh and the world) haven't figured out how to prevent these catastrophes in Bangladesh yet.

In all fairness, things have improved. During past cyclones hundreds of thousands of people have died- this time many estimate that the number dead will only be about 10,000. (Ok, the using 'only' and '10,000' in the same phrase doesn't make much sense, I know.) Since the last cyclone many shelters have been constructed, although not enough for everyone. And only those with TV and radio are aware when alerts are raised, leaving the poorest areas out of reach. In one tragic account, many locals in one area knew of the alert but refused to go. They evacuated coastal areas a few years back when the tsunami hit Asia only to find that no storm or tidal wave came. Many thought the government warnings were just 'crying wolf' again this time so they refused to leave their homes and belongings behind to seek shelter.

Relief groups and local and foreign governments are providing aid the best they know how. We can only give them our support and hope that those in need will find some peace in the days and weeks to come.

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