Anarchy as machete-wielding gangs fight to establish turf, loot.
Obama pledges US$100 million “to start”
US Special Forces Teams seize and secure airport
Two days after the earthquake, current aerial photographs of Haiti show a country a place so utterly destroyed that one wonders if any buildings will be found worth preserving when some assessment is done years from now.
There is no Haitian government emergency response worth talking about. The government and infrastructure were never worth talking about anyway, and I’d bet that the government no longer exists as a real entity. That is the situation being reported from the rubble. Haiti right now is not a country in the organised sense of the word.
Haiti is a place where eight or nine million people are sitting out in the open as aftershocks make it dangerous to seek shelter in any of the damaged buildings still left standing. Most of those who are still alive and trapped deep in the rubble will never see the sun again because it will be weeks before “rescue” teams with heavy equipment and hydraulic jacks make it to them. That’s not me talking, that’s rapidly becoming the message from those in charge of the relief efforts.
Remember how Barbados struggled when one house collapsed into a cave?
We couldn’t rescue five people with everything we had on the island and a special team in from the United States. Now think about Haiti.
(See BFP’s March 17, 2009 article Expert: Arch Cot Cave-In Victims May Have Been Killed By Wrong Decisions, Actions and Inaction By Barbados Emergency Officials)
Reports state that clean water and food are simply not available. Soon even relatively healthy and uninjured people will begin to succumb. If you think that is not what is going to happen, I hope you’re correct. But when I consider what it would take to give every man, woman and child just one bottle of water and a disaster cookie starting tomorrow and every day thereafter… Well, that isn’t going to happen for a few weeks anyway.
The world couldn’t (or wouldn’t) supply every Haitian man, woman and child with a drink of clean water and one meal a day before the earthquake. What makes you think it will happen within a few days now?
Don’t forget: it’s not as if there are warehouses and stores that have adequate supplies if the people could only get to them and dig out what they need. Haiti is was a country were dirt cookies were sold as food right up to the day of the earthquake. Haiti was a country where tons of food aid sat rotting in the sun every day because the charity organisations didn’t have enough money to bribe the government officials to release the containers so the poor could eat. (See BFP’s March 7, 2008 article Tons of food aid rotting in Haiti)
Haiti’s Airport now Closed to Rescue & Aid Flights
(As of Thursday, January 14, 2010 – 22:00 hours local time)
Airport Closed – Port-au-Prince cargo docks “unusable”
“Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) — Rescuers from around the world poured into Haiti, overwhelming its only international airport as the Haitian Red Cross estimated as many as 50,000 people died in the country’s Jan. 12 earthquake.
With little time left to find those still buried in the rubble, rescue teams were stuck at the Port-au-Prince airport and civilian relief flights couldn’t land after its ramps filled with craft, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a notice. The airport also lacked fuel for planes to fly home.”
“…the U.S. Coast Guard said cargo docks in Port-au-Prince were unusable.”
… from Business Week article: Global aid pours in as Haiti searches for survivors
How many new Haitian immigrants is Barbados willing to take?
Alright folks, it’s time for Barbados to put up or shut up.
After the world (read “Primarily the United States of America”) saves as many Haitians as can be saved in the next few weeks, then what?
Haiti wasn’t a country that worked to begin with. At this point, it doesn’t really matter why it didn’t work, but merely shipping in food and shelter isn’t going to solve much in the long run. It may take decades to physically rebuild something from the rubble, but unless Haiti and Haitians develop new cultural and social values and skills along the way – unless they learn to be a workable society – the country will continue to be as close to hell on earth as we have in the Western Hemisphere. (And that was before the earthquake)
So here’s a suggestion: The Caribbean community should agree to take 10% of Haiti’s population from the island and to sponsor the immigrants for five years. The number of Haitian immigrants arriving in each country would be based upon that country’s abilities and space, but in total the Caribbean community would see about a million Haitians immigrating to the various member countries for five years.
During those five years, the Caribbean countries would try to teach the Haitians skills and the cultural values that work. This would relieve significant pressure upon the rebuilding of Haiti, and in five years the 10% of the population would return and hopefully be in a better position to move Haiti forward.
If someone has a better suggestion for rebuilding Haiti, I’d like to hear it.
Meanwhile, let’s ask the question of our fellow Bajans…
How many new Haitian immigrants are you willing to bring to Barbados if that’s what it takes to save people and rebuild Haiti as a working society?
You must read this New York Times op/ed: The Underlying Tragedy