"Cyclone Nargis struck the coast of Burma in the evening of May 2, 2008 and cut a path of destruction across the southern portion of the country. […]. Some have speculated that the final number of dead could reach 100,000. Vital infrastructure was destroyed by the storm, severely limiting the ability to assess the loss of life and provide assistance to the survivors. In addition, much of Burma's most productive agricultural land has been severely damaged […]. Burma's ruling military junta quickly faced both domestic and international criticism for its response to Cyclone Nargis, including accusations that it failed to provide adequate warning, its slow emergency response, and its reluctance to allow international relief workers into the country. Even before Cyclone Nargis struck, the junta was already facing a highly controversial referendum on a proposed constitution scheduled for May 10, 2008 that could shape U.S. and other countries' policies toward Burma. As a consequence, the evolution and implications of the humanitarian crisis are inextricably linked to Burma's political situation and its relations with the international community. […]. In addition, some experts are speculating that Cyclone Nargis may precipitate major political change in Burma, including the destabilization of Burma's military regime. […]. This report examines the scope of and response to the disaster, as well as its links to Burma's political situation and U.S. policy."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34481
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