An Offer Burma Can't Refuse

In the midst of disaster, Burma's rulers have resisted outside help. It's time for the world to force it on them

Prashant Panjiar / Livewire Images for TIME

The wreckage of a school in Kaw Hmu.

The disaster in Burma presents the world with its worst humanitarian crisis since the 2004 Asian tsunami. The ruling military junta says that more than 30,000 people are dead; the U.N. estimates the figure at perhaps 100,000. The number of Burmese at risk of starvation and disease could reach nearly 2 million. Unless the victims receive immediate help, the death toll could conceivably approach that of the entire number of civilians killed in the genocide in Darfur.

So what is the world doing about it? Not much. The military junta that runs Burma initially signaled it would accept outside relief but...

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