Haiti Earthquake: Emergency Aid or Not?

By Leny

Three days after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, the survivors and the injured continue to lose hope of escaping its aftermath. The international community has acted swiftly to provide aid. However, the aid is not getting to those who need it the most fast enough. It is fortunate that many countries around the world continue to deliver aid to Haiti. But the injured are dying while the rescue crews wait for the ideal logistical arrangements. In a place so devastated with so much destruction, chances of finding such infrastructure are slim to none. It is necessary to strategize the best way of delivering aid. But should bureaucracy continue to keep in the way of humanitarian aid? Is it to the extent of putting the victims and survivors in greater risk of death, further injury, and anarchy? With so much destruction, people will continue to die in masses if groups providing first aid, food, water and other supplies continue to camp out at the airport until the roads are clear.

Indeed, it is necessary as well for our aid/relief workers to be safe while caring in Port-au-Prince. However, for the UN to order its medical personnel to retreat from the medical tents in fear of their security is a bit extreme. Some folks had just had surgery, but they were left behind.  Others have been waiting to be seen the whole day to find out that they just might die that night. The security that these medical personnel had to hold them out throughout the day could have supported them that night as well. For instance, Dr. Gupta from CNN stayed behind with less security to take care of the patients and he was unharmed.

It seems that the patience and the resilience of the Haitian people is being spread thin. The more people wait for food, the more desperate they get. The more desperate they get, the more they are susceptible to irrationality and violent acts in the absence of aid. One could probably kill to bring food to a loved one.  A longer wait will create a situation of survival of the fittest.  In such a situation, why not do the best possible? Is this the best the UN can do in such a desperate situation? Why can’t there be UN trucks scattered around different parts of the city to distribute food and water?

So far, the evidence on the ground is showing minor incidents of disturbance; nothing to stop the distribution of aid and medical care to people whose lives are at risk. Perfect order will not be reached and if that has to happen before aid is truly distributed to the masses, lots of lives that would have been otherwise saved will be lost.  Haitian people have shown their resilience and courage for the past week.  But the laxity in the approach toward the distribution of aid is running the risk of driving the country into anarchy.

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