Haiti In Ruins Needs Urgent & Massive Help




For a second night in a row Haitians are sleeping in the streets, some are already homeless and others in fear of strong aftershocks. Despite the urgency of the situation, the international medical and rescue help is barely trickling in.

The first reports are emerging from Doctors Without Borders teams who were already working on medical projects in Haiti. Doctors Without Borders own medical facilities have been damaged, and they are now treating hundreds (more than 1,000 so far) of people injured in the quake in tents. Doctors Without Borders, Stefano Zannini was out for most of last night trying to assess the situation and the needs of the city.

“The situation is chaotic. I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning. Many are damaged, and I saw a distressing number of dead bodies. Some parts of the city are without electricity,” said Zannini.

Port-au-Prince is completely overwhelmed and unable to cope with the scale of the disaster.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who are sleeping in the streets because they are homeless. We see open fractures and major head injuries. The problem is that we can not forward people to proper surgery at this stage,” said Hans Van Dillen, a coordinator for Doctors Without Borders.

The French medical aid organization reports a “massive influx of casualties” at its makeshift tent facilities.

On the front of the slow coming international aid, the first US aid planes have already landed at Port-au-Prince airport, and US Navy ships should reach their destination in the morning. The EU, Russia and China are also sending rescue and medical teams by plane. The help could not come soon enough as the situation in Port-au-Prince is getting increasingly desperate, with no coordinated rescue effort and very little medical supply. Thousands are feared to be trapped under rubble, and the local authorities do not have the heavy equipment needed to handle the task.

Despite the fact that, according to the UN, “37 search and rescue teams have been dispatched to Port-au-Prince”, there is little help in sight on the streets of the capital in ruins. However, Haitians are showing extraordinary signs of solidarity by helping each other while a tremendous amount of bodies lay amid collapsed building, and the cries of victims buried under rubble echo into the night. In the absence of international rescue workers, Haitians are working together to look for survivors.

Last night in New-York, Naomi Klein, journalist and the author of “The Shock Doctrine”, issued her own “disaster capitalism alert” regarding the dire situation in Haiti.

“We have to be absolutely clear that this tragedy-which is part natural, part unnatural- must, under no circumstance, be used to, one, further in debt Haiti, and, two, to push through unpopular corporatist policies in the interest of our corporations. This is not a conspiracy theory. They have done it again and again,” said Naomi Klein.

Noami Klein is correct in her analysis. International help from individual countries or the World Bank always come with many strings attached, and it usually ends up putting poor countries into  a more precarious situation by increasing their debts, and not improving social justice. Haiti, which is too often forgotten by the rest of the world, needs its help more than ever before. The international help has to be long term, and Haitians should aslo be free from their debts obligation from international loans. In our fast moving news cycle we have the tendency to forget about such a tragedy shortly after the big news outlets are done covering it. 80 percent of Haiti’s GDP already comes from foreign aid, our global assistance will have to be a lot more generous and consistent  in the coming years in order  to help rebuild Haiti after the dead are buried.

To read News Junkie Post’s previous coverage of the tragedy unfolding in Haiti in the earthquake’s aftermath  click here.

Please follow Gilbert Mercier on Twitter , and read this author’s archive on News Junkie Post.


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