Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi released this statement following the passage of H.Res. 1181, which expresses condolences and sympathy to the people of Burma for the grave loss of life and vast destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis. The resolution passed the House of Representatives this evening by a vote of 410 to 1.
“The thoughts of the world are with the people of Burma as they struggle to recover from the catastrophic cyclone. The numbers are simply staggering. It is estimated that the death toll will be more than 100,000, with another 2 million displaced or severely affected by the cyclone.
“And no one can put a number on the human suffering and misery the cyclone has wrought. It has been our hope that the worst in Mother Nature would bring out the best in human nature. During the 2004 tsunami, the international community and non-governmental organizations led the way in providing assistance to save lives. The international community stands ready with the humanitarian resources and can be mobilized to help the people of Burma immediately.
“Instead, we are learning much more about the brutality of the ruling Burmese military junta. Before the disaster, the Burmese regime did little to warn the Burmese people. Now, it is not providing a fraction of the necessary assistance in the aftermath. Worse still, the junta refuses to grant access to international humanitarian relief organizations to the affected areas. There are now reports of the regime selling relief supplies for its own profit. Last week, Burma's leaders even made the decision to proceed with a sham referendum even as the Burmese people are fighting for the lives.
“The next few days are a critical time for the cyclone survivors in Burma. Disaster experts tell us that malnutrition, starvation, and disease will reach even more horrifying numbers unless immediate assistance is delivered.
“This resolution today is a statement of this Congress' support for the people of Burma. But we must do more. With the Bush Administration and the Congress working together, the United States government will provide the necessary resources to help the people of Burma at this critical time.
“The world community must apply the necessary political pressure and resources to meet the challenge of saving their lives while there is still time. I am pleased by this strong show of support for the people of Burma, who need our assistance in these difficult times.”