Haiti: “UN confronts ‘worst ever disaster'”

Latest video news about Haiti from English Al-Jazeera

(3 very short videos posted at YouTube today January 17, 2010)

The United Nations says Haiti’s earthquake is the worst disaster it has ever had to deal with.

Aid is now pouring in, with a steady flow of relief getting through the nation’s only airport.

The World Food Programme says it expects to feed a million people. But survivors say help is not happening fast enough as dead bodies lie scattered on the capital’s streets.

Tarek Bazley reports.

Barack Obama, the US president, has recruited two of his predecessors to lead a major fundraising drive for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

In a bid to appeal to all Americans, Obama asked former presidents Bill Clinton and George W Bush to front the campaign. Tom Ackerman reports from Washington.

It is five days since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, spreading fear and misery across an already fragile nation.

After a relatively slow start, US forces appear to be taking the lead in organising international aid efforts on the ground.

But there is a long way to go. Residents outside the capital complain they have been forgotten.

In rural towns and villages survivors have largely been left to fend for themselves. Al Jazeera’s Sebastian Walker reports from Port Au Prince, the capital.

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    • Edger on January 17, 2010 at 3:35 pm
      Author

    Authorities struggle to aid Haitian quake victims



    In this photo provided by MINUSTAH, the UN stabilization mission in Haiti, refugees gather at a golf course waiting for food distributed by U.S. Marines, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010. (AP / MINUSTAH, Marco Dormino)

    Small miracles continue in Haiti while large-scale suffering continues to grip much of the populace on the fifth day since a massive earthquake devastated the tiny Caribbean country.

    Onlookers in Port-au-Prince cheered early Sunday as rescuers removed a dehydrated but otherwise uninjured woman from a collapsed luxury hotel.

    “She’s one tough cookie. She is indestructible,” Reinhard Riedl, the woman’s husband, told reporters.

    Experts say that in general, people can’t survive for more than three days when caught in a collapsed building, although a few people have managed to beat the odds.

    However, the main problem continues to be getting aid out to the survivors of the quake who have no food, water, shelter or medical care. The 7.0-magnitude quake is estimated to have killed between 50,000 and 100,000 people — including eight Canadians — and affected a total of three million Haitians.

    About 20,000 bodies have been driven out of town to be burned, the Haitian government said.

    [snip]

    “What we’re trying to do is scale up our efforts as fast as we can,” said UN Emergency Relief Co-ordinator John Holmes, in an interview with CTV News Channel.

    Holmes said that workers have been successful in reaching many of the needy, but as the scope of the relief effort expands, so does the magnitude of the catastrophe.

    “What you have to understand is the infrastructure of the capital … is more or less completely collapsed,” Holmes said, speaking from New York. “Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution.”

    The country’s main airport has been rammed with aircraft attempting to deliver supplies, leading to some conflicts between national governments over access. Meanwhile, relief workers rushing to the decimated capital of Port-au-Prince have been slowed by clogged roads.

    [snip]

    Haiti’s President Rene Preval, who met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday, called the quake’s aftermath “an extremely difficult situation. We must keep our cool to do co-ordination and not to throw accusations at each other.”

    Clinton pledged continued support for the country and said the U.S. would be “as responsive as we need to be.”

    Comparing the quake to previous disasters, UN humanitarian official Elisabeth Byrs said the quake was the most difficult situation the organization had handled.

    She said it was even worse than the 2004 Asian tsunami, because much of the infrastructure is damaged.

    I’m atheist, but I’ll do the closest thing to praying I can do, this morning…

  1. Good to hear from you, TMC — courage toujours!

    Here, too, is an on-going update of news from various charities, such as Oxfam, etc., including MSF!  

    Yes, the U.S. took control of directing the airport yesterday and the unloading of distributions.

    This video really gets to me! All these long, long lines of people waiting to get water, being handed out two to four bottles at a time by UN personnel . . . . . . . .

    Here, is an excerpt from an article [“Haiti earthquake survivors get more food and water”] of Yahoo, which has constantly been updated from yesterday, first published at about 3:00 p.m. CST.  The original had no information about “The Haitian government had established 14 distribution points for food and other supplies, and U.S. Army helicopters were reconnoitering for more.” (but did in an update about an hour and a half later).  The language I’m showing here has now been omitted:

    The problems at the overloaded airport forced a big Red Cross aid mission to strike out overland from Santo Domingo, almost 200 miles away in the Dominican Republic. The convoy included up to 10 trucks carrying temporary shelters, a 50-bed field hospital and some 60 medical specialists.

    “It’s not possible to fly anything into Port-au-Prince right now. The airport is completely congested,” Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said from the Dominican capital.

    Another convoy from the Dominican Republic steered toward a U.N. base in Port-au-Prince without stopping, its leaders fearful of sparking a riot if they handed out aid themselves.

    The airport congestion touched off diplomatic rows between the U.S. military and other donor nations.

    France and Brazil both lodged official complaints that the U.S. military, in control of the international airport, had denied landing permission to relief flights from their countries.

    Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, who has 7,000 Brazilian U.N. peacekeeping troops in Haiti, warned against viewing the rescue effort as a unilateral American mission.

    The squabbling prompted Haitian President Rene Preval, speaking with the AP, to urge all to “keep our cool and coordinate and not throw accusations.”

    At a simpler level, unending logistical difficulties dogged the relief effort.

    A commercial-sized jet landed with rescue and medical teams from Qatar, only to find problems offloading food aid. They asked the U.S. military for help, surgeon Dr. Mootaz Aly said, and were told: “We’re busy.” . . .

    Even recognizing all the problems — this is still too reminiscent . . . . !

  2. heh. oh well.

    my hometown

    With official reports and estimates hard to come by, many newspapers turned to alternative news sources like Twitter and Facebook where Haitians and relief workers posted pictures and updates to contact loved ones. The Miami Herald in particular has offered some of the must comprehensive multimedia coverage in the area. Drawing from Miami’s massive Haitian community, the Herald has benefited from its insight in the area, with its staff poring over Haitian-Creole websites to translate more news.

    Through a new feature called “Haiti Connect,” the Herald lets readers upload photos and details of missing loved ones to help gather information for rescue efforts. The newspaper’s Facebook and Twitter pages have also served as discussion boards for people trying to contact relatives and friends in Haiti.  

    Nancy San Martin, the Herald’s assistant world editor, told Poynter Online that “we really see ourselves as a gateway.” “For our readers, it’s important to try to determine what the future holds. How does Haiti get out of this? What’s the next step, and what are the ways that people can help? What can Haiti expect from us?”

    As of Wednesday night, seven staff members had taken the 90 minute flight to Haiti, including Patrick Farrell, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the storms in Haiti. Jacqueline Charles, the Herald’s Carribean correspondent who is also on location, landed the first interview with Haitian President René Préval, in which he detailed the destruction: “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed.” The New York Times has since linked the story.  

  3. on the U.S. “slow response” (worth reading, gives much history, as well).

    . . . .

    8. But don’t worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They’re from Iceland.

    9. Gates wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no “structure … to provide security.” For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it’s security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

    10. Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It’s treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president. . . .

    I had read yesterday that Aristide may be planning a return to Haiti.  It appears that may now be more of a reality.  This poses many, many concerns and may explain the “sudden” alliance of Clinton, Bush and Obama (disgusting!), more so than a so-called genuine care for the Haitians!

    By Chantal Laurent, January 27, 2010

    Aristide Haiti Return- Clinton, Bush & Obama of One Mindset

    The Obama Doctrine is The Bush Doctrine– a corrosive mindset that got us into Iraq and the “war on terror.” This is evidenced by the appt. of Bush & Clinton to head Haiti relief. Obama also continues US policy of political interventions in Haiti.

    . . . .

  4. Patients overwhelm medical teams at Haiti clinics Sunday evening…

    While some Haitian hospitals were still functioning, they were facing a new challenge — patients and their families who refused to leave once they were treated because they had no other shelter available.



    “They have nowhere to go. Their homes have been destroyed. So they are staying,” Reader said. “So the hospitals are literally overflowing with people.”

  5. somewhere I read that 1,000,000 Haitians had been affected by this horrific tragedy, and the body counts are now beyond, 50,000.

    According to this:

    1. Haiti is a county in the West Indies

    2. Population is roughly 9,035,036

    3. Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.

    Somewhere, I read there are about 3,000,000 Haitians.  The population shown above jives with that of the U.S. Gov. as of July, 2009.  ????????

    More, on the growing angst:

    “The government is a joke. The U.N. is a joke,” Jacqueline Thermiti, 71, said as she lay in the dust with dozens of dying elderly outside their destroyed nursing home. “We’re a kilometer (half a mile) from the airport and we’re going to die of hunger.” . . . .

    A reliable death toll may be weeks away, but the Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in the 7.0-magnitude tremor, and Haitian officials believe the number is higher. . . . .

    The U.N. World Food Program was “pretty well on target to reach more than 60,000 people today,” up from 40,000 the previous day, WFP spokesman David Orr said. But U.N. officials said they must raise that to 2 million within a month. The U.S. aid chief, Rajiv Shah, told “Fox News Sunday” he believed the U.S. distributed 130,000 “meals ready to eat” on Saturday, but the need was much larger. “We’re really trying to address it,” he said.

    [Note: That kind of distribution will NOT keep these people alive.]

    In a further sign of the delays, the aid group CARE had yet to set a plan for distributing 38 tons of WFP high-energy biscuits in outlying areas of Haiti, CARE spokesman Brian Feagans said Sunday. He did not say why.

    The Geneva-based aid group Doctors Without Borders put it bluntly: “There is little sign of significant aid distribution.”

    The “major difficulty,” it said, was the bottleneck at the airport, under U.S. military control. It said a flight carrying its own inflatable hospital was denied landing clearance and was being trucked overland from Santo Domingo, almost 200 miles away in the Dominican Republic, delaying its arrival by 24 hours.

    French, Brazilian and other officials had earlier complained about the U.S.-run airport’s refusal to allow their supply planes to land. A World Food Program official told The New York Times that the Americans’ priorities were out of sync, allowing too many U.S. military flights and too few aid deliveries.

    The U.S. has completely taken over Port-au-Prince airspace and incoming flights have to register with Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, said Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster, Air Force spokesman here.

    “You won’t have the stray cats and dogs allowed to come into the airspace and clog it up,” he said.

    . . . . But a coordinator here for Spain’s international development agency, Daniel Martin, complained that their aid supplies had been diverted to Santo Domingo, and Doctors Without Borders spokesman Jason Cone said the U.S. military needed “to be clear on its prioritization of medical supplies and equipment.”

    The White House said Sunday the U.S. Coast Guard ship Oak had arrived at Port-au-Prince harbor, rendered useless for incoming aid because of quake damage, and use heavy cranes and other equipment to make the port functional.  [Note:  You don’t think that just, maybe, an assessment might have been made beforehand?]

    . . . .”Preval out! Aristide come back!” some shouted, appealing for a return of the populist Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in 2004. From his South African exile, Aristide said last week he wants to return to Haiti, but spoke of no concrete plans to do so.

    How is it that we assumed or had control over the airport and efforts in the first GD place?  I’m sorry — but this friggin’ stinks — everytime we get our mits into something — it’s fucked!

    Here are some other skeptical sentiments, from

    Citizens for a Legitimate Government:

    CLG’s BREAKING NEWS and COMMENTARY

    Last updated: 01/17/2010 12:45:32

    Ortega warns of US deployment in Haiti

    17 Jan 2010

    Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega says that the United States has taken advantage of the massive quake in Haiti and deployed troops in the country. “What is happening in Haiti seriously concerns me as US troops have already taken control of the airport,” Ortega said on Saturday. The Pentagon says it has deployed more than 10,000 soldiers in Haiti to help victims of Tuesday’s earthquake. This is while US paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division took control of the main airport in the capital Port-au-Prince on Friday three days after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake brought death and misery to the impoverished nation. “There is no logic that US troops landed in Haiti. Haiti seeks humanitarian aid, not troops. It would be madness [if] we all began to send troops to Haiti,” said Ortega. “I hope they will withdraw troops occupying Haiti,” he added. Earlier on Thursday, Nicaragua sent 31 military doctors of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit (URH) and humanitarian aid for the victims of the calamity. [WHY is the US government delaying the delivery of lifesaving food and water in Haiti? Is the plan to create a fertile environment for the number of ‘security incidents’ to skyrocket (which Faux News can’t wait to overemphasize) so there is a ‘need’ for Blackwater mercenaries to be sent to destabilize Haiti?

    Israel had a field hospital up-and-running on Saturday. The US is spending one hundred million dollars on Haiti – where are their field hospitals? –LRP
    ]

    MSNBC host: ‘A field hospital (from Doctors Without Borders) was actually denied permission to land… Why is that?’ Miami Herald correspondent: ‘That’s been happening from the get-go.’ [Feed was then lost.] –MSNBC live, 13:05 ET 17 Jan 2010 . . . . (All Notes mine)

     

  6. Photo op for war criminals

    http://www.infowars.com/disgus

    Haitains say fuck you

    http://www.infowars.com/no-mis

    Argument over the long dead Bin Laden

    http://www.infowars.com/spanis

    Do three guys run the entire world?

    http://www.infowars.com/rothsc

    I don’t know anymore, cats mating with dogs.

    http://www.infowars.com/u-n-s-

    It is an eighteen pack night.

    • Edger on January 18, 2010 at 3:55 am
      Author

    US general: 200,000 dead Haitians just a ‘start point’

    AFP via RawStory, 6:01 PM

    The leading US general on the ground warned that 200,000 might be a reasonable “start point” for the eventual toll, but said it was still too early to predict a figure that might never be accurately known.

    “Clearly, this is a disaster of epic proportions, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” said Lieutenant-General Ken Keen, who is running the vast US military relief operation in the stricken Caribbean nation.

  7. I apologize if this is already common knowledge (I’m usually the last to know about these things). Tomorrow an international fundraising and solidarity event will be staged. From the Wear Red for Haiti facebook page:

    Wear Red for Haiti

    Type: Causes – Rally

    Network: Global

    Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Time: 12:00pm – 11:55pm

    Location: Everywhere (There’s no specific place, it’s a nationwide/worldwide event)

    DescriptionCREDIT TO RACHEL YORKSTON FOR THIS LINK! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… Everyone should listen to this. It’s called Together (A Song for Haiti) and was recorded by the High School of Recording Arts. The “first step” that they’re talking about? It’s exactly what you all are doing right now, coming together to show your support. By showing our support for these people, we WILL increase the donations given and we WILL make a difference in the lives of everyone affected by this quake.

    Show your support for the victims of the earthquake disaster in Haiti by wearing red on January 19. We’re all one people and we all share this world, and we must stand up for one another when others begin to fall apart.

    Everyone who joins this group, if you would invite all of your friends and tell them to do the same with theirs. If we work together then we can show our strong support for those who have been affected by this unprecedented tragedy.

    IF YOU HAVE A TWITTER, TWEET THE LINK TO THIS EVENT SO THAT ALL OF YOUR FOLLOWERS WHO HAVE A FACEBOOK WILL BE AWARE OF IT! TELL THEM TO CONTINUE TWEETING IT AS WELL!

    If you are interested in donating money to the victims, you can do so in several different ways:

    1. Text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross which is also aiding in the efforts.

    2. Obviously if you are aware of any charities sending money to the victims, these would work as well.

    Here is a long list of organizations participating in Haiti as of right now, so if you have the money to spare, please give what you can to help these people. http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING

    UPDATE: Actor Ben Stiller has just announced that ALL donations given through his charity StillerStrong (http://www.stillerstrong.org/) will go directly toward the disaster relief in Haiti. This is just another excellent way to show your support for the Haitian people.

    IMPORTANT: If you are searching for relatives or friends who may have been in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, go to http://www.familylinks.icrc.or… It is an excellent site that hopefully will reunite you with anyone that may be missing.

    January 15, 4:00 AM – 40,000 members

    January 15, 4:05 PM – 80,000 members

    January 15, 8:45 PM – 120,000 members

    January 16, 5:30 AM – 160,000 members

    January 16, 12:50 PM – 200,000 members

    January 16, 5:00 PM – 240,000 members

    January 16, 9:10 PM – 280,000 members

    January 17, 12:30 AM – 320,000 members

    January 17, 10:00 AM – 360,000 members

    January 17, 1:45 PM – 400,000 members

    January 17, 5:05 PM – 440,000 members

    January 17, 8:15 PM – 480,000 members

    January 17, 10:50 PM – 520,000 members

    I would just like to take this chance to explain some things that I’ve been noticing in the wall posts. This event is in absolutely no way limited to just wearing red as a show of support. In fact, I would encourage EVERYONE to donate, no matter how much or how little they can manage. Obviously only wearing red is going to send no tangible help to the citizens of Haiti, but what it WILL do is draw more attention to the cause, hopefully ultimately resulting in greater donations to the disaster relief. Will wearing red solve this crisis? No. But directing a greater scope of attention to the situation is extremely important, and THAT is the core purpose of this event.

    Pass the word along!

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