Too many aid organizations and an inept government have created a chaotic relief effort in Haiti
“The aid machinery currently at work in Haiti keeps too much for overhead for its operations, and still relies overmuch on NGOs or contractors who do not observe the ground rules we would need to follow to build Haiti back better.”
Phi Beta Iota: This is the single best over-all description of how the USA–despite its massive presence–has failed to provide the two things we have plenty of and everyone in Haiti needs: mobility into all six air and sea points (12 entry points instead of two now being used) and the kind of multinational decision-support that STRONG ANGEL pioneered so able. Haiti appears to be chaotic–out of control–and the problem will be made vastly worse if we allow US contractors to take the place over much as Naomi Klein anticipates in The Shock Doctrine–The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Haiti appears to be a disaster converted into a catastrophe now well on its way to pillaging and looting by American contractors who will make Haiti’s own gangs look like “the little rascals.”
DEATH TOLL: Haiti’s government raises estimate on deaths caused by Jan. 12 quake to 230,000 — the same death toll as the 2004 Asian tsunami — and says the number of dead is expected to rise as more bodies are counted. The previous death toll was 212,000
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Diarrheal illnesses, acute respiratory infections and malnutrition are beginning to claim the lives of dozens of Haiti’s earthquake victims. Health officials fearful of contagious disease outbreak are rushing to vaccinate more than half a million children against measles, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
Some 300,000 people are injured. And the number of amputees, estimated in the thousands, keeps rising because of untreated fractures. Food shortage violence is also producing casualties. One doctor says he treats several gunshot wounds a day.
Perhaps the only thing that prepared me were grainy black and white photographs that I had seen of Berlin and Tokyo in the summer of 1945, cities reduced to endless stretches of rubble. Port-Au-Prince looks like it was bombed mercilessly from the air by a powerful foe.
But only when you get into the very heart of the city, ground zero of the quake’s devastation, does a world of pure destruction open before you. One of out every two buildings collapsed like pancakes, creating giant tombs in the city’s heart. The stench of death, inescapable, is all around you. Noone will ever know how many are buried inside these mountains of wreckage. It took ancient Rome empire hundreds of years to collapse and become a city if ruins. But mother nature accomplished the task in Haiti in a matter of seconds.
And everywhere – dominating air, sea, and land – are the Americans. From the airport field hospital operated by the sleep-deprived heroes of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, to the awesome site of Air Force Ospreys rising vertically and then taking horizontal flight, to the giant C-130 transports landing and making the earth shake, to the American Homes passing through the streets, with smiling soldiers atop, the American people are providing the lion’s share of international relief.
As Haiti begins digging out from under 60 million cubic meters of earthquake wreckage, U.S. firms have begun jockeying for a bonanza of cleanup work.
It’s unclear at this point who will be awarding the cleanup contracts, but there is big money to be made in the rubble of some 225,000 collapsed homes and at least 25,000 government and office buildings.