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Master Tsin Tao calls for international aid to Myanmar

CNA, May 11, 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- People of kindness around the world should join in efforts to help the Burmese people suffering from the May 2 cyclone that devastated the region, the Burma-born Buddhist Master Hsin Tao said Friday following his visit to the disaster areas.

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Hsin Tao, founder of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJMBS) in northern Taipei County and a Republic of China citizen, was one of the few foreigners allowed to enter Myanmar in recent days.

The country's governing junta has been blocking foreign aid workers and disaster relief teams from entering the country, where nearly 23,000 were dead and 42,000 missing according to official tallies.

Outside observers estimate the death toll could exceed 100,000 people.

Hsin Tao said the situation in Myanmar remained unclear because many roads were damaged and many villages where overwhelmed by floods caused by Cyclone Nargis, and he said he was worried that the death toll would continue to rise because the rainy season is approaching.

"At the moment, helping survivors settle is our priority, followed by the reconstruction of their homeland," Hsin Tao said at a press conference held upon his return to Taiwan after having spent 36 hours in Myanmar.

To gain time and reduce possible deterioration of aid during delivery, Hsin Tao suggested that people donate money instead of goods to charity organizations in Thailand or Malaysia and enable those organizations to purchase goods and materials locally before sending them on to Myanmar. Meanwhile, Hsin Tao's Buddhist society has set up a special unit in Thailand to help manage its relief effort to Myanmar, the master added.

Hsin Tao also founded the Museum of World Religion (MWR) in Yonghe City, Taipei County. Along with his Buddhist Society, the organization aims at promoting peace and love around the globe and co-existence among different faiths.

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Myanmar Cyclone Disaster Fast Facts

Toll as at May 9, 2008

Dead (official)
Missing (official) 41,054
Dead (US estimate) 100,000 plus
Homeless (UN estimate) 1 million- plus

International contributors

$10 million
$3 million
UNITED STATES $3 million
AUSTRALIA $2.8 million
$2 million in aid.
CANADA $2 million
INDONESIA $1 million
SPAIN $775,000
GERMANY $775,000
CHINA $500,000
FRANCE $320,000
GREECE $300,000
JAPAN $267,570
THAILAND $100,000
$2.1 million
SRI LANKA $25,000

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