The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, Guido Bertolaso, criticized the United States’ efforts in helping earthquake stricken Haiti. After witnessing the devastation firsthand, the top disaster official in Italy said efforts were a “vanity parade.”
In an interview with Italy’s RAI television, Bertolaso offered a scathing assessment of progress saying it was, “a pathetic situation which could have been much better organized”. The international relief efforts are being overseen by the United Nations and he said, “We are missing a leader, a co-ordination capacity that goes beyond military discipline.”
Haitians search for their dead: `I need the body’ (Associated Press)
With 150,000 bodies already in mass graves, international teams, grieving families, sympathetic neighbors and sometimes even strangers were pulling at the rubble with tools or bare hands in countless corners of this devastated city. Thirteen days after the killer earthquake, they were desperate to recover some of the thousands of Port-au-Prince’s lost dead — to close each tragic circle, to lay loved ones in the earth to rest in peace.
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In front of the wrecked National Palace, people’s desperation boiled over. Uruguayan U.N. peacekeepers had to fire pepper spray into the air to try to disperse thousands jostling for food.
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“We live like dogs,” said Espiegle Amilcar, 34. “We’re sleeping, eating and going to the bathroom in the same place.”
The global agency supplying tents said it already had 10,000 stored in Haiti and at least 30,000 more would be arriving. But, said the International Organization for Migration, “the supply is unlikely to address the extensive shelter needs.” The group estimates 100,000 family-sized tents are needed; the U.N. says up to 1 million people need shelter.
Haiti earthquake diary: The lives within the tent cities (Christian Science Monitor)
Stories about Haiti are dropping off the ABC network’s lineup, so the TV crew I’m working with is starting to downsize. The big name anchors are, for the most part, either gone or slated to leave by Sunday. Our ABC nightly news story is cut from the schedule, fighting for time with John Edwards. Then it’s back on the schedule, but competes with a dog being rescued from a flood. Huh? Not that I don’t like dogs, but it’s hard to feel empathy for man’s best friend when outside my door thousands of people are living in tents, their lives buried somewhere between, beneath, or below enormous chunks of concrete.
Haiti Says It Will Ask for $3 Billion at Donors Conference (New York Times)
Other aid groups said they would encourage the foreign ministers to look at restructuring Haiti’s society rather than just its physical infrastructure.
Mr. Bellerive made a similar suggestion during his speech.
“We have to do more with less and we have to work in a different fashion,” he told the meeting. “We have to open a vision which will have a list of priorities clearly delineated by the Haitians for the Haitians by democratic means.”
But even before the conference began, some Haitians were doubtful that it would achieve anything significant.
West urged to write-off Haiti’s $1bn debt (Telegraph UK)
The Montreal talks were expected to lay the groundwork for a full-fledged donors conference in the coming weeks at which pledges of money for reconstruction will be made.
Diplomats raised the possibility of a rebuilding project similar to the Marshall Plan, the US-led postwar reconstruction of Europe, which would take many years.
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There has already been widespread criticism of the relief effort in Haitiwhich came under further attack from Italy’s civil protection chief, Guido Bertolaso. Mr Bertolaso was acclaimed for his handling of the aftermath of last April’s earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy.
In an extraordinary outburst in Port-au-Prince he called the US-led effort in Haiti a “pathetic” failure, saying it was too reliant on military personnel. The US has sent 20,000 troops and anchored a hospital ship offshore.
He said: “I think it has truly been a pathetic situation. It could have been run a lot better, “The Americans are extraordinary but when you are facing a situation in chaos they tend to confuse military intervention with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to the armed forces.
“It’s a truly powerful show of force but it’s completely out of touch with reality.” Mr Bertolaso, who holds the rank of a government minister, also accused individual countries and aid agencies of conducting a “vanity show”.