Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti in Trouble: Post Earthquake Help Can't Get on the Ground

Great news that Wilmette student Paul Tyska is safe following the earthquake in Haiti, but that is one of the few bright spots following Tuesday's earthquake. Today, the airport in Port au Prince has been closed for much of the day; there is no jet fuel for planes that land; no air control for larger planes; and no government first responders. Despite global efforts to help, due to the airport situation, simply getting to Haiti is proving an enormous problem. The UN online coordination website is offline, likely overwhelmed by traffic; on-site NGO's have delegations missing, trapped, or dead;, and Haitians living in Chicago and other places are beside themselves with worry about family and friends. There is no electricity, no telephone, roads are out, and there is no one to lead the dazed citizens who are not injured to action. There are reports of looting, gunshots, and people with no place to go, and without food and water. In short, the situation is a nightmare.

While the next few days should solve many problems, by then it may simply be too late for many of the trapped. Many citizens of Haiti, which has a 50% unemployment rate, have existed largely on charity and imported food. Before the earthquake, gangs had a huge presence in the capital, and the drug trade was thriving.

The world feels a terrible sense of helplessness as relief teams stand by ready to deploy and help the small country. Of the few reports emerging from Haiti, prayer is requested. At the moment, it seems about all that can be done.


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