Where is Haiti's Aid Going?

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Where is the Aid in Haiti?
by Roger Annis
Evidence of monstrous neglect of the Haitian people is mounting following the catastrophic earthquake three days ago.
 
photo from Clinton Bush Haiti Fund site (getty images) 
 
As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port-au-Prince, and as news networks report a massive international effort to deliver emergency aid, the people in the shattered city are wondering when they will see help.

BBC World Service reports that Haitian officials now fear the death toll could rise to 140,000. Three million people are homeless.

BBC reporter Andy Gallagher told an 8 pm (Pacific Time) broadcast tonight that he had traveled "extensively" in Port-au-Prince during the day and saw little sign of aid delivery. He said he was shown nothing but courtesy by the Haitians he encountered. Everywhere he went he was taken by residents to see what had happened to their neighbourhood, their homes and their lives. Then they asked, "Where is the help?"

"When the Rescue teams arrive," Gallagher said, "they will be welcomed with open arms."

CBC Radio One's As It Happens broadcast an interview this evening with a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross. He said he spent the morning touring one of the hardest hit areas of the city (the district was not named), in the hills that rise from the flat plain on which sits historic Port au Prince. "In three hours, I didn’t see a single rescue team."

The BBC report contrasts starkly with warnings of looting and violence that fill the airwaves of news channels such as CNN and are being voiced by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He was asked by media in Washington why relief supplies were not being delivered by air. He answered, "It seems to me that air drops will simply lead to riots."

Gates says that "security" concerns are impeding the delivery of aid. But Gallagher responded directly to that in his report, saying, "I'm not experiencing that."

Describing the airport, Gallagher reported, "There are plenty of materials on the ground and plenty of people there. I don't know what the problem is with delivery."

Nan Buzard, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, was interviewed on the same BBC broadcast about the problem with aid delivery. She implied that there were not, in fact, many supplies at the airport to be moved, that many of the planes that have been landing were filled with people, not supplies.

When pressed by the BBC host why aid was not being moved into the city, Buzard conceded she was "surprised" that it was not being airlifted in.

The BBC's is not the only report to contradict exaggerated security concerns. The daily report on the website of Doctors Without Borders one day after the earthquake said, "Some parts of the city are without electricity and people have gathered outside, lighting fires in the street and trying to help and comfort each other. When they saw that I was from MSF they were asking for help, particularly to treat their wounded. There was strong solidarity among people in the streets."

An e-mailed report received by the Canada Haiti Action Network describes a city largely bereft of international aid. "Thus far," it reports, "the rescue teams cluster at the high profile and safer walled sites and were literally afraid to enter the barrios. They gravitated to the sites where they had secure compounds and big buildings.

"Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods where the damage appears to be much wider, and anywhere there were loose crowds, they avoided. In the large sites, and in the nice neighbourhoods, and where the press can be found, there would be teams from every country imaginable. Dogs and extraction units with more arriving, yet with 90% or more of them just sitting around."

"Meanwhile, in the poor neighbourhoods, awash in rubble, there was not a foreigner in sight.

"News crews are looking for the story of desperate Haitians that are in hysterics. When in reality it is more often the Haitians that are acting calmly while the international community, the elite and politicians have melted down over the issue, and none seem to have the remotest idea what is going on."

The report says that most of the staff of the U.S. embassy and US AID complex (located a stone’s throw from the oceanfront) have fled and buildings are largely empty, even though the streets in the area are clear.

Yesterday, BBC broadcast an interview with Mark Stuart, a director of an orphanage in Jacmel, a city of 50,000 on Haiti's south coast, 50 km south of Port au Prince. Aerial footage showed catastrophic damage. Stuart appealed for international relief, saying that food and water supplies would soon run out and no aid whatsoever had arrived.

An article on the website of a Chicago publication says a trickle of aid arrived today but the road between Port and Prince and Jacmel is impassable.
 


Roger Annis
is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network in Vancouver.
He can be reached at rogerannis(at)hotmail.com.  
 
 
 
URGENT APPEAL FOR THE PEOPLE OF HAITI
 
From the Canada Haiti Action Network
 
 
 
 
January 14, 2010 Two days ago at 5 pm local time, a powerful magnitude-7 earthquake struck in Haiti. It was centred near the capital city Port-au-Prince and has caused massive destruction. The Canada Haiti Action Network urges Canadians and others around the world to contribute generously to emergency relief.
 
You can contribute to the Haitian Red Cross through its international partners in the International Red Cross. Contributions are tax deductible. The Canadian Red Cross is at: http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=33900&tid=001. We also encourage contributions to the following organizations. Remember that you must provide a name and return mailing address in order to receive a tax-deductible receipt:
 
 
 
Zanmi Lasante/ PARTNERS IN HEALTH
 
 The Zanmi Lasante medical center is located in the remote Central Plateau of Haiti and delivers health care through a network of clinics in that region of the country. It is also an education center that trains and graduates Haitian doctors and other health professionals. It is the culmination of 20 years of work by Dr. Paul Farmer and his Partners in Health. Farmer, a graduate of Harvard University Medical School, currently serves as assistant to former President William Clinton, Special UN Envoy on Haiti. The health center survived the earthquake and is moving rapidly to receive  the injured and dispatch teams to the earthquake zone. See below for how to donate.
 
 
By mail, "Haiti Earthquake Relief" in cheque memo line to:
Partners In Health
P.O. Box 845578
Boston, MA 02284-5578
 
 Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins sans frontières
 
Doctors Without Borders operates clinics in Port au Prince and surrounding neighbourhoods. It has expertise in disaster relief. Donations in Canada and the U.S. are tax deductible. Go to:
 
 
By mail, "Haiti Earthquake" in memo line:
Doctors Without Borders
720 Spadina Ave, Suite 402
Toronto ON  M5S 2P9
 
 Sawatzky Family Foundation-SOPUDEP School
 
SOPUDEP is a pioneering school in Petionville with an enrolment of 600 students from elementary to senior high school grades. The school was not in session when the disaster struck; we do not know if the building survived. The resources of the school and its teachers are being mobilized to assist the neighbouring population. The Sawatzky Family Foundation is a registered charity in Canada and issues tax deductible receipts. Go to: http://www.sopudep.org/donate .
 
By mail:
The Sawatzky Family Foundation
PO Box 626, 25 Peter Street North
Orillia, Ontario, Canada  L3V 6K5
 
 
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
 
In association with the Haiti Action Committee in San Francisco/Bay Area, this fund delivers resources directly to grassroots organizations in Haiti. It was founded 04 following the 2004 coup d'etat that forced the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from office and imposed a two-year regime of human rights violations whose consequence continues today. Go to: http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/HERF.html
 
By mail:
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA   94704
 
 For more information, including telephone contact, go to the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network http://canadahaitiaction.ca/.
 
 

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