"Haiti Earthquake: Aid Blockages Into Stricken Country ".

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"Haiti Earthquake: Aid Blockages Into Stricken Country ".

Post by 1916 on Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:10 pm


Planeloads of water, food, tents, medicine and rescue equipment began arriving at Port au Prince's airport along with emergency teams geared up to help the estimated three million people – a third of the population – thought to be injured and homeless.

But the volume of incoming aid planes was so great that the airport was forced to close to further arrivals and instead, many charity workers spent the day waiting in neighbouring Dominican Republic.

Haiti has asked for countries not to authorise any more flights to Port-au-Prince for now and aircraft bound for the devastated country were either not allowed to take off or, in some cases, not allowed to land when they arrived at Port-au-Prince.

As the Red Cross put the number of dead at 50,000, the focus for those who managed to get into Haiti was on locating people trapped under the rubble and trying to minimise an anticipated public health crisis that it is feared could claim thousands more lives.

The epicentre of the earthquake on Tuesday afternoon was only 10 miles (16km) from Port-au-Prince, the capital of the western hemisphere's most impoverished country.

Seismologists said its impact was all the more destructive because it was "shallow", causing greater shaking on the surface of the ground. About four million people live in and around the city, which was rocked by aftershocks as powerful as 5.9 magnitude.

Tens of thousands wandered dazed and sobbing in the chaotic, broken streets, most still unable to find shelter or food two days after their world was turned upside down.

"Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency," one foreign aid worker said.

The pressure on resources generated concerns there could be an outbreak of violence in the country. Gunshots were heard sporadically, there were reports of widespread looting and fights breaking out over water.

British charity Save the Children has said that two million children will have been affected by the disaster, many orphaned, injured and forced to sleep among the dead.

"The emotional damage of what they're going through could last their entire lives," Gareth Owen, Save the Children's director of emergencies, said.

At the few hospitals still able to operate, the living and injured lay alongside corpses as medics inside battled to save as many as possible.

Salvation Army's director of disaster services in Haiti, Bob Poff, said he had never encountered such chaotic scenes.

"It's the worst I've ever seen, It's so much devastation in a concentrated area," he said. "It's going to take days, or weeks, to dig out."

The United States – which has a history of involvement in Haiti both politically and though aid efforts – led the charge, sending planes full of rescue workers, an aircraft carrier and three amphibious ships with thousands of soldiers, along with a team to restore air traffic control to the airport.

Barack Obama, the US President, has asked his predecessors George W Bush and Bill Clinton, to help lead the global aid effort.

Announcing what he said was "one of the largest relief efforts in our recent history", President Obama told the Haitian people "You will not be forsaken" as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged further long-term assistance to rebuild the shattered country.

"You will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you,” Mr Obama added.

In the UK, The Queen offered her "profound sympathy" to the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti and Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said Haiti now had to become "the centre of our world's attention, the world's compassion".

The World Bank led financial aid with an offer of $100m (£61m), which was matched soon after by the US and the International Monetary Fund.

The UK has pledged $10m (£6.1m) and the United Nations, which lost its headquarters in the city along with its mission head, his chief deputy and as many as 100 staff, has also released $10m.

The International Committee for the Red Cross has launched a $10m appeal and other world charities – including the UK's Disaster Emergency Committee – have issued their own pleas.

The ICRC set up a special webpage to help Haitians locate family members from whom they have been separated during the earthquake.

UN and aid agencies, who know well Haiti because of four hurricanes that struck the country last year, have warned that collapsed roads and public buildings mean they face a "major logistic challenge" in getting essential relief to survivors.

"It's chaos," UN humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said. "It's a logistical nightmare."

The first aid to arrive was a US military assessment team, followed just before dawn by an Air China plane carrying a search-and-rescue team, medics and tons of food and medicine and three French planes with aid and a mobile hospital.

A British government assessment team and 71 rescue specialists along with heavy equipment flew into neighbouring Dominican Republic before making its way to the disaster zone.

Cuba, which also felt the quake, established a series of field hospital and countries including Israel, Brazil and Canada along with the Asia-Pacific region, all too familiar with the impact of natural disasters, have added their own pledges of help.

Former US President Bill Clinton, who spent his honeymoon in Haiti and is now the UN special envoy there, said that more helicopters were needed.

"The most important thing is to get people into the (collapsed) buildings and find as many alive as possible," he said.

Aid workers began handing out food yesterday and World Food Programme spokesman Charles Vincent predicted 2,400 people could be fed by the end of the day.

"Obviously it's a drop in a bucket but it's a start," he said, adding that once roads are cleared, distribution would also start in other areas.

Doctors face a race against time to save people suffering from fractures and internal injuries caused by falling masonry and treat open wounds before they become infected.

"Many other quakes have shown us very clearly that of people who suffer injuries and die as a result, most deaths occur within the first 72 hours," said Tammam Aloudat, from the Red Cross.

He added that people living on the street would see mass outbreaks of disease. "There is a whole range of communicable diseases that will almost invariably rise over the coming days and weeks. That is a major concern."
The General
The General

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Re: "Haiti Earthquake: Aid Blockages Into Stricken Country ".

Post by la belle et la bête on Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:19 pm

I can't believe they let bureaucracy get in the way of treating near death people. I just saw today that they're finally letting doctors that are licensed here (US) treat people there (Haiti) without first getting approved and such. Sure, maybe a few doctors might get in that aren't qualified, but in situations like this, you have to take a few risks. I can't believe it took this long.
la belle et la bête
la belle et la bête

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