UN Talk Radio Day: Humanitarian Emergencies

Continuing his broadcast from “inside the belly of the beast,” Alan Stock, a radio host out of Las Vegas, sat down with Patrick McCormick, the emergencies communication officer for UNICEF.

When pressed about aid efforts in Myanmar, McCormick spun a somewhat more complicated tale than the conventional wisdom.Turns out that UNICEF had over 130 people on the ground in Myanmar when Cyclone Nargis hit, and, although it had trouble with visas for a while, it now only has to wait “a day or two.” In addition, McCormick said that he speaks with UNICEF employees on the ground on a daily basis and hadn’t had any indication that they’d been stopped from going anywhere. In general, though, McCormick said:

When we have a situation like this, we expect the host country to pull their weight. In a week, in fact, they’ve usually completely taken over. That isn’t the case in this instance.

Clearly, enough aid is not getting to enough people in need, but it’s certainly worthwhile to note the immense value of having people already on the ground in places like Myanmar. That’s the case for the UN nearly everywhere.

One other interesting tidbit, UNICEF’s aid package to Myanmar and to China (where it has sent 100 tons of relief) includes “School in a Box,” as so many were destroyed in these disasters.