Tuesday, January 19, 2010

'Haiti can be proud of its survivors'

US troops land at Haiti presidential palace
BBC News: The US, which had previously considered aid drops too risky because of the danger of riots on the ground, is now considering airdrops across Haiti... The leading US general in Haiti, Lt Gen Ken Keen, and UN humanitarian chief John Holmes played down worries over security, saying that despite violent incidents, the overall situation was calm... Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said airdrops had been ruled out because they might do more harm than good. Mr Gates warned that they could trigger riots if there was no proper structure on the ground to distribute supplies.

The Telegraph: France accused the US of 'occupying' Haiti on Monday as thousands of American troops flooded into the country... The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the US to 'clarify' the American role amid claims the military buildup was hampering aid efforts... Geneva-based charity Médecins Sans Frontières backed his calls saying hundreds of lives were being put at risk as planes carrying vital medical supplies were being turned away by American traffic controllers. But US commanders insisted their forces' focus was on humanitarian work and last night agreed to prioritise aid arrivals to the airport over military flights, after the intervention of the UN.

David Belle: I have been told that much US media coverage paints Haiti as a tinderbox ready to explode. I'm told that lead stories in major media are of looting, violence and chaos. There could be nothing further from the truth. I have traveled the entire city daily since my arrival. The extent of damages is absolutely staggering. At every step, at every bend is one horrific tragedy after another; homes, businesses, schools and churches leveled to nothing. Inside every mountain of rubble there are people, most dead at this point. The smell is overwhelming. On every street are people -- survivors -- who have lost everything they have: homes, parents, children, friends.

NOT ONCE have we witnessed a single act of aggression or violence. To the contrary, we have witnessed neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends and strangers. We've seen neighbors digging in rubble with their bare hands to find survivors. We've seen traditional healers treating the injured; we've seen dignified ceremonies for mass burials and residents patiently waiting under boiling sun with nothing with their few remaining belongings. A crippled city of two million awaits help, medicine, food and water. Most haven't received any. Haiti can be proud of its survivors. Their dignity and decency in the face of this tragedy is itself staggering.

The Wall Street Journal: Lack of medical facilities and doctors for tens of thousands of injured people in the decimated Haitian capital is one of the major problems facing aid efforts... US Naval officials said earlier Saturday that the Vinson nevertheless didn't plan to take on care of earthquake victims... When the clinic was observed by a Wall Street Journal reporter Saturday afternoon, all of the beds were empty. Lt. Cmdr. Jim Krohne, a spokesman for the aircraft carrier and its captain, responding to a reporter's queries, said the vessel's mission was 'sea-based' and the primary focus of the clinic was to treat American citizens.
Image source here.