UNICEF radio interview
BBC Radio 4
29 December 2004
Q: Is Burma being secretive about the devastation it has suffered from the recent tsunami? Jason Rush is from UNICEF.
Jason Rush (UNICEF): To be frank, we still don’t know. Unlike some of the other surrounding countries, there are additional communication and logistical constraints in Myanmar, which does make accessing some of these affected areas more difficult, and makes getting tangible information about the situation on the ground more difficult. So it could be that additional casualties will come to light. We certainly hope that’s not the case, but we are prepared to respond if this is more serious than it’s appearing at the moment.
Q: And has the Burmese government given any indication as to whether it is seeking international help?
Jason Rush: We have not been [asked] for any specific assistance yet, however, we have been in close contact with our various government counterparts, and they are welcoming assistance. We are in the process of reallocating different essential lifesaving drugs to different affected areas, and authorities have been cooperating with us to provide these essential materials to these areas.
Q: Although the figures are bad, 90 people dead according to you, it’s not nearly as bad as a place such as Thailand, and I guess one of the reasons would be that Burma does not have the level of tourism that a place such as Thailand does have.
Jason Rush: That could be. A lot of the beach areas in Myanmar are more sparsely populated than beach areas and coastal areas you’ll see in other surrounding countries. Furthermore, we have received reports from a lot of the larger coastal towns in the region, both in Taninthiryi Division, Ayeyarwaddy Division, Rakhine State, that actually there [weren’t] any reports of large tsunami waves as was seen elsewhere. We don’t know whether there were other outlying islands that took the brunt of those waves, but there are some reports coming in from larger coastal communities that there hasn’t been the same impact seen elsewhere. So, perhaps that’s a silver lining to this disaster.
Q: Jason, thank you very much indeed for your time.
Link to audio interview: