Tag Archives: haiti

Two views of the Haitian relief effort

News today was that the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, John Holmes (no, not that John Holmeslet’s face it, that link was the reason you even wrote this post – eds.)  wrote an email to his staff expressing his displeasure over a number of shortfalls in the relief effort in Haiti.

…there remain major unmet humanitarian needs, particularly in critical areas such as shelter, other NFIs, and sanitation.Regarding coordination, I was disappointed to find that despite my calls for the Global Cluster Lead Agencies to strengthen their cluster coordination capacity on the ground, very little progress has been made in this critical area.

We cannot, however, wait for the next emergency for these lessons to be learned. There is an urgent need to boost significantly capacity on the ground, to improve coordination, strategic planning and provision of aid.

I’m not really acquainted with the U.N. culture but this sounds pretty scathing in a bureaucratic sort of way.

Mark, on the ground in Haiti, has a different view of the letter.

A lot of UN people died here. We were decimated.

This is not even mentioned any more.

For the first week, everyone was running around shellshocked, with no working communications.

We lost friends, partners and children. Families were ripped apart.

We were victims. Yet we have not been allowed any time to grieve, to cope with our loss. We are not considered victims, despite our lives being traumatically disrupted. Would have been worth a mention, I would have thought.

That is a good point.  The UN (and, I imagine many NGOs as well) are both victims and supposed to organize the recovery.  Tough job for a group that went through something that traumatic and unexpected.

A view from Haiti

Mark Turner is back in Haiti and doing some work with an aid agency.  He’s started posting video of some of the relief missions he’s going on.

The international press is going home, day by day. That leaves people like us to keep the message alive. With the decline of journalism, we all assume a responsibility.

As if earthquakes, poverty and instability weren’t enough

So, the U.S. is taking some heat for dominating access to the airport in Port-au-Prince and squeezing out aircraft with humanitarian assistance in favor of those carrying American military personnel.  Perhaps now we know why* (h/t YT):

Dumping the dead in hurriedly excavated mass graves without proper rites is seen as…a

… zombies — dead bodies brought back to life by supernatural forces who could persecute the living.

Haitian officials say so far at least 50,000 bodies have been dumped in mass graves outside the shattered capital, Port-au-Prince, in what they view as the most efficient way to dispose of the fast-rotting corpses from Tuesday’s disaster.

*Note:  Editing of this story may have significantly changed it’s meaning from the original during the english to kooky paranoid translation which occurs here at the TwS world headquarters.

And if, somehow, you haven’t found a place to help out those in Haiti yet, here’s a link to Doctors Without Borders who do good work.

Society is only three missed meals from anarchy…

I think that quote was from Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy but it’s been awhile since I read it so forgive me if I got it wrong.

I was thinking about that as I’ve been reading about the security situation in Haiti.

Mark’s got a good round up of security concerns and describes some of the problems pre-earthquake.

Even before the earthquake, feelings towards internationals, the UN, ranged from support to resentment. With so much aid unable to get through, it may now resurface. Pre-disaster, there had been a rise in violence over the holiday period (shooting by men on motorbikes); and political tension was growing as elections approached.

Having just completed a move to Haiti shortly before the earthquake, Mark is now considering the consequences of going back (he and his family were in Florida at the time).

Global Voices has a nice review of the unfortunate bottleneck of humanitarian assistance trying to work its way into the country.

And then they do another article describing the use of the term ‘looting’ and reports of violence in the capital.