Reminders

Haiti 2010

Genocide by Omission

By Flavia Cherry

If ever there was genocide - this is it!  People who are very sick are being left in camps where no help is available (see a piicture of one of the camp sites, made only of bed sheets hang up by flimsy sticks).

I interviewed thirty eight women and every single one of them was hungry.  One lady who gave me her phone number, said that supplies were only distributed once and since there was pushing and shoving, they never came back to her area.  She said that some of the bags of supplies were being diverted to private warehouses, re-packaged and then re-sold to them.  She explained how some of this is being done by the elites.  She gave me her phone number and asked me to please help them.  

See picture of how women and children are living in the camps - those who are lucky enough to at least have a bed-sheet covering over their heads. Some had not seen any supplies for days.  Pregnant women are having miracle babies on the bare ground in tents where there is no running water, no chances of getting emergency help, if there are complications.  The most painful part is to see sick children and disabled people forced to live on the sidewalks.  One of the pictures shows the way people are living on the sidewalks with no shelter.  The only place for a desperately sick child (in the same picture) is for him to be slumped over a bucket, with the middle part of his body hanging into the bucket.

I tried hard not to be overcome by the agony of sight in the many areas where human suffering is most  severe.  A Human Rights activist in Haiti told me about a French newspaper report (in France) regarding French doctors chopping off limbs when it was totally unnecessary, so someone should check this out. 

So many people are starving and hungry.  Haitians are demonstrating because too many of them are left without food for extended periods.  One must really ask why, when so much has been donated and so much is available for distribution?  I have seen people carrying American labelled bags of rice and other goods.  There are distributions in some places and I did see areas where there were lines for women only, but the bottle necks continue.  If something is not done, there will be more demonstrations and eventually, riots for food.  Is that the intention?  Is this being done to justify the need for millitary intervention?  People are being pushed to an unacceptable, unconscionable limit.  I am very worried about the way people are living, because when the rainy season starts, the genocide by omission will be multiplied many times over.

Haitians are the most resilient, most creative people on the planet!  I cannot begin to explain here, the way people are organizing and helping each other in this tragic situation.  One woman made a stove/grill, with material from the rubble and it is being shared by the other women in her camp.  She proudly showed me her invention (see photo).

I believe that Haitians will overcome, but we must reach out to them.  CARICOM can make use of so many of us in the region who speak French and Creole.  It is very clear that the international agencies cannot handle the scale of the problem, so CARICOM should ask them to collaborate and provide some of those resources (especially as Caribbean citizens have been donating) so that Caribbean citizens can assist wherever possible. 

I think there is a lesson in this for us in the Caribbean.  We need to be more organized for disasters which can happen to any island because the same things which are happening to Haiti, could happen to any of the islands where we live.  And if international agencies do not cooperate with CARICOM, then we should have a campaign to advise Caribbean citizens not to donate to any of those institutions, but rather to a Caribbean Disaster Fund.

I see the hope in the children of Haiti.  All is not lost.  I have a beautiful photo of the baby who was born to a double amputee, thanks to our intervention and support.  In some areas people are beginning to hustle for survival and organize their lives in whatever way the can; all things considered.  Some women vendors are already selling produce by the roadside.  We can learn a lot from the creativity and tenacity of our Haitian brothers and sisters.
**********************************************

2010-02-04

Petition from the Haitian Youth Ambassadors to the CARICOM Heads of Government Special Summit on Youth, Paramaribo 2010


PHOTO: Downtown Port au Prince after the earthquake of 12 January 2010.

The petition below was presented at the CARICOM Heads of Government Special Summit on Youth, Paramaribo 2010. Special permission has been given to the Barbados Youth Development Council (BYDC) to circulate in an effort to raise the consciousness of our Barbadian and Caribbean youth to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Haiti and to do our utmost in whatever ways we can to make their dreams and aspirations a reality even as we make our own a reality.

Sincerely
Jason K.A Francis
President
BYDC
 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECOVERY RELIEF EFFORT TO SUPPORT YOUTH DEVELOPMENT THROUGH TERTIARY EDUCATION AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IN HAITI AFTER JANUARY 12TH EARTHQUAKE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CARICOM MEMBERS
_______________________________________________________
A petition of CARICOM YOUTH AMBASSADORS FROM HAITI

Addressed to: CARICOM COMMISSION ON YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

WE THE UNDERSIGNED WOULD LIKE TO BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING PROBLEM, WITH RECOMMENDATIONS:
_______________________________________

Good afternoon,

I wish to speak on the behalf of my brothers and sisters in Haiti who are desperate for almost 3 weeks. Those youths that woke up the morning of January 12 with a bunch of energy, vibes that were sharing with others, and had hopes that tomorrow will have been better! Those same youths, the one who survived obviously, were standing in the middle of a street at 5PM without any hope!
This is an appeal that the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors of Haiti; current and former are making on behalf of our peers.

Dear Heads
The January 12 earthquake left thousands of students without schools, universities, and teachers in Port-au-Prince and around Haiti. Current efforts are focusing on providing food, water, and shelter; but in the coming months and years, the most pressing issue will become the lack of qualified human resources to rebuild Haitian society, which will result from the generations of displaced students unable to access quality education during and following the crisis. The demand for quality education is, and will continue to be, very critical. In this time of crisis, HAITI needs the support of its partners, including members of the CARICOM community, to continue providing education to its current students to avoid creating a potentially detrimental gap in qualified human resources.

Haiti has little capacity and few facilities to offer tertiary education, and this disaster has further weakened the tertiary education system. The State University of Haiti has around 23,000 students; each year 18,000 youth seek attendance at an undergraduate school, but only 3000 are admitted. For example, the School for Nursing and the School of Human Sciences collapsed, and the other buildings are cracked. Most likely, the rescued students will lose the academic year, and the country will suffer from a lack of qualified personnel during the recovery and reconstruction periods following the immediate response.
As acting CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and with the support of the former ones, we appeal to the CARICOM Community to urge the Heads of Government to offer education support to Haiti in this humanitarian crisis.

First, we request that CARICOM dedicate money for 20 scholarships per year for the next five years (starting in Fall 2010) for Haitian students to attend the University of West Indies (UWI). In addition, we hope that UWI will be more flexible in enrolling Haitian students during this special disaster relief effort.

Second, we urge CARICOM to develop a mechanism that will help youth in Haiti access funding to develop businesses, for instance, through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), while receiving support and mentoring from the State University of Haiti and the private sector.

Thank you for your attention.

________________________________________

AGREED UPON BY THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE:

1. Isnel PIERREVAL / former CYA for HAITI / valisnel@yahoo.fr
2. Frantz SEIDE / former CYA for HAITI/ fhseide@yahoo.fr
3. Gyliane Anne-Leticia CADET/ CYA for HAITI/annothe@yahoo.fr
**************************************************************************************************

Haiti From the Front Lines



President Preval at the fence of the Presidential Palace talking to Haitians

Correspondence from Flavia Cherry
Vice Chair of the Caribbean Region, ACP Civil Society Forum.

It is good to see that some efforts are being made to reach women in desperate need, but those of us on the ground are yet to see this happen in many of the areas where there is desperate need for food and relief. AID agencies MUST find a more humane way to reach out to the women and children who are most vulnerable and desperate. I know that the need is great, there is no excuse for what is the reality on the ground here in Haiti as Caribbean citizens offered help and many have even been denied entry. It is obvious that the aid agencies, (well intentioned as they may be) are unable to handle the scale of the problem here in Haiti. So why are they not being inclusive and involving more Haitian and Caribbean institutions in the relief and recovery efforts? Something is very wrong about the picture here in Haiti because while international agencies are dropping the ball in an attempt to monopolize aid efforts, Haitians are dying. Apart from lines for women, there is an urgent need for volunteers to go into the camps to reach women, children, disabled and elderly people who are unable to move.

It is a disgrace for so much money to be circling around to all kinds of aid groups and every single day I see so many people hungry, desperate. This situation is simply not acceptable. There are women in camps who have not had anything to eat for days. There are many available Haitians who are willing to assist as volunteers to get the aid to those who need it and CARICOM was willing to send help, but something seems to be really wrong. Why are Caribbean Goernments not allowed to play a more pivotal role, especially as there are many CARICOM citizens and regional security officers who speak creole and would be able to communicate better with the people of Haiti.

What I see on the ground is lots of big fancy air conditioned vehicles moving up and down with foreigners, creating more dust and pollution on the roads. Thousands of military officers everywhere, heavily armed like they are in some kind of battle zone. The girl guides and boy scouts of Haiti are also out in their uniforms, but unlike the army of troops, they are up and about, assisting in many ways. I saw of group of the boy scouts and girl guides directing traffic today, Sunday!

From the very beginning, I have been asking why aid agencies did not arrange separate lines for women, children and disabled people. It is obvious that if you leave people hungry for 5 to 8 days without food, they will be desperate and when food finally arrives, it will be survival of the fittest. The international agencies allowed confusion to reign supreme for more than two weeks while sensational and racist media people were merrily portraying images of hungry people fighting for food. At least now that they have suddenly realized the need for separate lines, I hope that this happens at every single distribution point, because as I am writing this email, that certainly is NOT the case.

I would like to share two separate events which I witnessed yesterday.


The first one is what I call a miracle birth. A young lay who had both legs amputated delivered a healthy baby on the ground, under a bed sheet. Not only were both legs amputated, but she had bandages all over her hips. Because of her condition, this expectant mother should never have been left out there on the streets at that advanced stage of her pregnancy because the chances of having a normal delivery in her physical condition were very slim. At the time of the delivery, people were everywhere, men, women, children, all huddled together under those sheets, for shelter from the sun. If there were complications, both mother and baby could very easily have passed, as no one in the camp had any transport or means of getting the mother to a medical facility. Other mothers were there with their newborns. This poor mother had nothing, no milk, no clothing for the baby, nothing! A doctor eventually came, but the mother was left there, with her baby, so we brought milk and supplies, including a sleeping bag. I know these are not normal times, but it is exactly for this reason, international aid agencies should be more inclusive and engage all those who are willing and capable of providing support.

The second incident happened in the heart of Port Au Prince yesterday where the largest number of people are living under the most inhumane conditions. I was taking pictures, when suddenly everyone started to run towards the Palace gates. I stood on top of a vehicle and realized that it was President Preval who had ventured onto the lawn and people starting shouting out to him, saying that they were hungry. President Preval came to the fence and hundreds of people kept running towards the fence. Many of them were shouting ¨Lavalas, Aristide, Lavalas, Aristide¨. Several others were asking President Preval why he had not addressed his people and told them what was happening. One woman put it this way: (I have not had anything to eat for four days and no one is hearing anything from the President, we have no idea what our Government is doing). I am using brackets because I cannot find quotation marks on this french keyboard.

President Preval spoke to those who were closest to the fence, but the large number of people who were pushing and shoving to get a glimpse of him, obviously heard nothing. At least I got a picture of the whole scene, including President Preval behind the fence with hundreds of people right next to him on the other side. Something about that scene convinced me even more, that there is really no need for such a heavy military presence in Haiti. What Haiti needs is an army of medical, civilian and specialist volunteers who will work with the people of Haiti to rebuild their nation - not a heavily armed military of more than 50,000 standing guard over them.

Regards,

Flavia

PS: I must express appreciation for the many volunteers from various countries who are giving very genuine assistance to the people of Haiti, but my comments remain relevant because of the reality on the ground
***********************************************************************************

Jagdeo slams US handling of aid efforts in Haiti

JAMAICA OBSERVER
AP

Thursday, January 21, 2010

PHOTO: Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and President Bharrat Jagdeo, proceed along the red carpet flanked by one of Iran's elite military units (Courtesy of Iran Republic News Agency)

 GEORGETOWN, Guyana - President Bharrat Jagdeo believes the United States (US) is creating obstacles to the involvement of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and other countries in earthquake-devastated Haiti.

 During a meeting with the Iranian Vice President Veep Rahimi yesterday in the Islamic Republic, Jagdeo said he was informed that a delegation comprised of Latin American leaders who were seeking to visit Port au Prince faced objection from the US government and therefore could not make the humanitarian move.

In the wake of the disaster and the decision of the Haitian authorities to hand over control of the airport to the US, Rahimi also raised objection, saying the presence of US forces in Haiti was seriously affecting efforts by other countries to provide assistance to the country in its hour of need.

 "I am agreed with the entire axis of your comments," Jagdeo told the Iranian official. He added that Guyana has always pursued independent policies. "Although we live in the vicinity of the United States, we are not in agreement with their entire stance, and we do express our dissatisfaction with lots of their policies and viewpoints now and then," the Guyanese leader said, stressing that "many of the moves of the Americans around the globe are against the norms and merely ensure their own interests".

 Jagdeo referred to the economic advancement of Asian countries, saying "today the Americans openly declare that they are concerned about some developing countries' rapid advancement, such as China, towards becoming developed economic poles, since those countries can leave behind the United States economically in the future".

 He reiterated, "there are many countries and nations in the world today that do not seek salvation through attachment to the United States, having chosen other paths".

A high level Caricom mission to Haiti, comprising heads of government and leading technical officials, had to be aborted last Friday after it was refused to permission to land in Haiti following the impact of the massive 7.0 earthquake on January 12.

 On Friday afternoon, the US State Department confirmed signing two Memoranda of Understanding with the Government of Haiti that made "official that the United States is in charge of all inbound and outbound flights and aid offloading".

Further, according to the agreements signed, US medical personnel "now have the authority to operate on Haitian citizens and otherwise render medical assistance without having to wait for licences from Haiti's government".

*****************************************************************

From: Maureen Earle
Sent: Tue, 19 January, 2010 10:58:46
Subject: Please begin your delivery of items for Haiti

The location is warehouse No. 7  Newton Industrial park Ch. Ch.
Collection of items starts there today.
Join me in praying that the orphans are air lifted out before they die in Haiti
  
Maureen Earle
On behalf of
United Caribbean Trust

***************************************************************************************************************

The Politics of Humanitarian Aid

1/19/2010 6:29:08 PM - Speaking up

France bridles at US Haiti take-over

Haiti
It did not take long for France to start quarrelling with the United States over Haiti. The American take-over of the relief operation has not gone down well with Paris. Media cover over the past two days has depicted a virtual American invasion, with heavy-handed military pushing around French agencies. The words domination and even occupation were used on radio news reports this morning. 
Alain Joyandet, the Minister supervising the French operation, said that he had requested a formal protest to Washington after US controllers refused landing permission to a French Airbus with a field hospital on Saturday. The role of the US needs to be clarified, Joyandet said on Europe1 radio this morning. "It's a matter of helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti." [watch interview here]
French evacuation flights have been delayed while priority is being given to the US military, Joyandet said. He argued with US commanders on the airfield and at one stage grabbed a radio microphone to talk to the Airbus pilots, he added.
The Elysée palace and Foreign Ministry are trying to calm the fuss, but the annoyance is palpable. Haiti may be in the US back yard, but France, the former colonial power, sees it as part of its overseas family. The Pearl of the Caribbean, as the colony was known, is part of la Francophonie, the French-speaking commonwealth that is run and financed from Paris. Haiti's writers, artists and musicians have close links to la Metropole and some 70,000 immigrants live in France. [picture: Alain Joyandet in Haiti]
Joyandet
Listening to the press review on France-Inter radio this morning, you might have got the impression that Uncle Sam had occupied Haiti. They quoted L'Alsace newspaper saying that the United Nations, not the United States, should be running Haiti now. "The take-over of Port-au-Prince airport by the American military is a bad signal which indicates that the big guys are once again preparing to impose their law," said L'Alsace.  The newspaper also recalled that occupying Americans "killed thousands" of Haitiens in the years after their intervention there in 1915.
The state radio quoted an article from Haiti Liberté weekly which accuses un-named powers of imposing themselves on the devastated nation. "The capitalist countries, exploiters of the riches of the Haitian soil, are going to come hypocritically to our assistance. Not that we should slap it away. But we want it disinterested." The article may have been talking about the west in general, but America was the implied target. France-Inter did not bother to point out that the weekly in question is a small leftist journal run by expatriate Haitians from New York.
Three national radio stations also highlighted the London Guardian's front page picture of Americans frolicking in the water by their cruise liner at Labadee, a heavily-protected beach in northern Haiti.
Media commentators have also been discerning ulterior motives behind President Obama's huge relief operation -- showing that the US military can do more than wage war and scoring some peace credentials to justify his Nobel Prize. That, at least, was how Europe1 news put it.
L'Humanité, the Communist Party daily, is naturally accusing Obama of reverting to "the old imperialist imperative" and establishing a new permanent US military foothold in the Caribbean. On the other side, Le Figaro, the conservative daily, says that it is the wrong time to criticise the Americans.
Judging by the public chatter on French news sites today, public feeling is split on similar lines. There is a lot of admiration for Obama's action as well as complaining about Yankee excess.
France says the European Union has asked it to lead the continent's Haiti evacuation operations. President Sarkozy is also planning to assert the French role there by dropping in for a visit in the next couple of weeks or so.  The President is proposing sending 1,000 European gendarmes to Haiti and he is also trying to organise a world conference to co-ordinate relief.
[Alain Joyandet's ministerial blog here]
Click here to Comment: http://bangospeaks.blogspot.com

Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince

1/18/2010 4:28:24 PM - Speaking up
Doctors Without Borders Cargo Plane With Full Hospital and Staff Blocked From Landing in Port-au-Prince
Demands Deployment of Lifesaving Medical Equipment Given Priority
UPDATE: January 18, 2010

The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) plane filled with supplies needed to establish an inflatable tent field hospital landed at approximately 11 am local time, Sunday, January 17, in Port-au-Prince.

However, another MSF cargo plane carrying vital medical supplies to replenish stocks for Choscal hospital, where an MSF team is working on a backlog of patients needing surgery, was not allowed to land in Port-au-Prince on Sunday, January 17, and was forced to re-route to the Dominican Republic, where it landed. Choscal hospital will run out of medical supplies in less than 24 hours and its cold chain system for preserving medicines and vaccines at the proper temperatures could be compromised if this cargo plane is not able to fly into Port-au-Prince immediately.

More than 500 patients in need of surgery have been transferred from Martissant to Choscal hospital in Cite Soleil. MSF teams are focusing on lifesaving surgery (open wounds, fractures, burns, amputations, and emergency obstetrics). They've been working around the clock and have done more than 90 surgeries since the operating theater became functional. Priority is given to lifesaving interventions, such as amputations carried out on patients with gangrene triggered by infected wounds.

How many cargo flights has MSF successfully flown into Port-au-Prince? 4
What is their total tonnage? 135
How many cargo flights has MSF successfully flown into the Dominican Republic? 2
What is their total tonnage? 65
How many cargo flights are planned for the rest of this week? 6
What is their total tonnage? 195

Port-au-Prince/Paris /New York, 17 January 2009
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges that its cargo planes carrying essential medical and surgical material be allowed to land in Port-au-Prince in order to treat thousands of wounded waiting for vital surgical operations. Priority must be given immediately to planes carrying lifesaving equipment and medical personnel.

Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic. All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.

A second MSF plane is currently on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10 am local time with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital. If this plane is also rerouted then the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life saving treatment.

The inflatable hospital includes 2 operating theaters, an intensive care unit, 100-bed hospitalization capacity, an emergency room and all the necessary equipment needed for sterilizing material.

MSF teams are currently working around the clock in 5 different hospitals in Port-au-Prince, but only 2 operating theaters are fully functional, while a third operating theater has been improvised for minor surgery due to the massive influx of wounded and lack of functional referral structures.
Click here to Comment: http://bangospeaks.blogspot.com

Caribbean at risk of more large quakes like Haiti mega earthquake: Report

1/18/2010 1:56:21 PM - Speaking up
London: Earthquake experts have warned that the devastating quake that struck Haiti on January 12 could be the first of several in the region, which means the region is at risk of more large tremblors.

According to a report in New Scientist, historical records suggest that not all the energy that has built up in the faults running through the Caribbean region was released in the Haiti quake.

Their fear is that enough energy remains in the fault system to trigger another earthquake of the same scale as the one on January 12.

The last time Haiti was struck by earthquakes of this scale was in 1751 and 1770, when three large earthquakes hit within the space of 20 years.

They ruptured the same fault segment as the one that slipped on Jan. 12, as well as segments lying further to the east, in Haiti and the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

"Last time round there was a sequence of earthquakes," said Uri ten Brink, an expert on earthquakes in the region from the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

"I'm worried, as we might expect the eastern side of the fault to rupture next," according to other geologists.

"Stress transfer along the fault is likely to trigger a chain of quakes," said Bill McGuire from University College London.

Another, larger earthquake could affect surrounding nations as well.

The fault that was responsible for the Haiti quake extends west through Jamaica. Another runs parallel to it in the north, along the southern edge of Cuba and the northern side of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Historical records suggest that both these faults produce large and destructive earthquakes every few centuries.

"They are dangerous especially when large population centres like Port-au-Prince, Kingston in Jamaica or Santiago in the Dominican Republic are so close to them," said Paul Mann from the University of Texas at Austin.

The region harbours a third fault to the east, which is a further cause for concern.

Measurements over several decades show that the sum of all earthquakes that strike on "splinter faults" on the Caribbean plate have accounted for around half of the energy associated with this movement, leaving the other half stored up in the system.

McGuire and his colleagues are concerned that much of the stress may be accumulating on the undersea thrust fault to the east.

If that stress were to be released on the submarine fault, it could trigger a catastrophic tsunami of the scale of the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean disaster.

Source: Click to go to source
Click here to Comment: http://bangospeaks.blogspot.com

Haiti Update: Still No Relief

1/18/2010 1:07:44 PM - Speaking up

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, January 18, 2010 - Millions of dollars in aid are pouring into Haiti. Another head of state visits each day. But as of yesterday, the United Nations reported that humanitarian relief is still being bottlenecked at the main airport and roads remain blocked with debris.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) said that one of its planes carrying essential medical supplies was not permitted to land at the airport.
"Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic," the group said in a statement yesterday. "All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital."

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, is also working with Haitian authorities to set up a land corridor to bring in relief from the Dominican town of Barahona 130 kilometres away.

With the dead still being counted, and thousands missing, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said that 100,000 deaths "would seem a minimum". The country's interior minister reported that some 50,000 bodies have already been recovered.

European Union ministers called an emergency meeting for today to determine the costs of the massive reconstruction that will needed in coming months. The United Nations has already issued an appeal for US$562 million to aid Haiti which, even before the earthquake, was the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

That money would target the estimated three million Haitians affected for a period of six months, with half of the funds being earmarked for emergency food aid, and the rest for health, water, sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, emergency education and other key needs.

But in many parts of the devastated capital, there was little evidence of outside assistance.

In the suburb of Santo, dozens of Haitian men organised a digging and rescue operation on a pile of rubble. A huge orange Caterpillar bulldozer sat nearby, stationary. Heavy equipment from the Haitian construction company CNE is all over the city.

In the absence of any visible relief effort in the city, help came from small groups of Haitians working together. Citizens turned into aid workers and rescuers. Lone doctors roamed the streets, offering assistance.

At the crumbling national cathedral, a dozen men and women crowded around a man swinging a pickaxe to pry open the space for a dusty, near-dead looking woman to squeeze through and escape.

The night of the quake, a group of friends pulled bricks out from under a collapsed home, clearing a narrow zig-zagging path towards the sound of a child crying out beneath the rubble.

Two buildings over, Joseph Matherenne cried as he directed the faint light of his cell phone's screen over the bloody corpse of his 23-year-old brother. His body was draped over the rubble of the office where he worked as a video technician. Unlike most of the bodies in the street, there was no blanket to cover his face.

Central Port-Au-Prince resembles a war zone. Some buildings are standing, unharmed. Those that were damaged tended to collapse completely, spilling into the street on top of cars and telephone poles.

In the day following the quake, there was no widespread violence. Guns, knives and theft weren't seen on the streets, lined only with family after family carrying their belongings. They voiced their anger and frustration with sad songs that echoed throughout the night, not their fists.

"Only in the movies have I seen this," said 33-year-old Jacques Nicholas, who jumped over a wall as the house where he was playing dominoes tumbled. "When Americans send missiles to Iraq, that's what I see. When Israel do that to Gaza, that's what I see here."

Nobody knows what to expect. Some people said Haiti needs a strong international intervention - a coordinated aid effort from all the big countries. But there was no evidence on the streets of any immediate cavalry of rescue workers from the United States and other nations.

"My situation is not that bad," said Nicholas, "but overall the other people's situation is worse than mine. So it affects me. Everybody wants to help out, but we can't do nothing."

Haitians are doing only what they can. Helping each other with their hands and the few tools they can find, they lack the resources to coordinate a multi-faceted reconstruction effort.

UN agencies and humanitarian organisations on the ground are struggling to help survivors of the quake, but many are hindered by large-scale damage to their own facilities, as well as lack of heavy equipment to clear rubble.

Logistics remained the main obstacle, with damage to the main airport, impassable roads and problems at the docks continuing to bottleneck the outpouring of international relief workers and basic supplies. (Adapted from IPS)
Click here to Comment: http://bangospeaks.blogspot.com

Caricom blocked from landing in Haiti

1/18/2010 9:49:43 AM - Speaking up
Haiti We are Sorry!
BY RICKEY SINGH Observer Caribbean correspondent
Sunday, January 17, 2010
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- The Caribbean Community's emergency aid mission to Haiti, comprising heads of government and leading technical officials, failed to secure permission Friday to land at that devastated country's airport, now under the control of the USA.
Consequently, the Caricom "assessment mission" that was to determine priority humanitarian needs resulting from the mind-boggling earthquake disaster last Tuesday had to travel back from Jamaica to their respective home destinations.
On Friday afternoon, the US State Department confirmed signing two Memoranda of Understanding with the Government of Haiti that made "official that the United States is in charge of all inbound and outbound flights and aid offloading".
Further, according to the agreements signed, US medical personnel "now have the authority to operate on Haitian citizens and otherwise render medical assistance without having to wait for licences from Haiti's Government".
Prior to the US taking control of Haiti's airport, a batch of some 30 Cuban doctors had left Havana, following the earthquake, to join more than 300 of their colleagues who have been working there for more than a year.
Last evening, the frustration suffered by the Caricom mission to get landing permission was expected to be raised in a scheduled meeting at Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport between Jamaica's Prime Minister Bruce Golding and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Golding, who was making arrangements for the meeting with Clinton, following her visit earlier in the day to witness the devastation of the capital Port-au-Prince, said he could not comment on details to be discussed.
He, however, told this correspondent: "I appreciate the chaos and confusion at Haiti's airport, where there is just one operational runway. But Haiti is a member of Caricom and we simply have to be facilitated and the truth is there is hardly a functioning government in Haiti."
Asked whether the difficulties encountered by the Caricom mission may be related to reports that US authorities were not anxious to facilitate landing of aircraft from Cuba and Venezuela, Prime Minister Golding said he could "only hope that there is no truth to such immature thinking in the face of the horrific scale of Haiti's tragedy".
Golding, who has lead portfolio responsibility among Caricom leaders for external economic relations, got a first-hand assessment of the damage when he flew to Haiti on Thursday. A contingent of some 150 members of the Jamaica Defence Force has since established a camp with medical facilities in the vicinity of Haiti's airport.
Ahead of last evening's scheduled meeting with Clinton, Prime Minister Golding had discussed on Friday in Kingston some of the problems to be overcome at a meeting with the prime ministers of Barbados and Dominica and the Community's secretary general Edwin Carrington.
Carrington explained that proper use of the Norman Manley Airport would be consistent with a decision last week for Jamaica to serve as the Sub-regional Operational Focal Point for responses to the Haitian humanitarian crisis.
Caricom blocked from landing in Haiti 
Click here to Comment: http://bangospeaks.blogspot.com

Earthquake Hits Haiti


Viewed 2,165 times