Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti

As you all know, a major earthquake has devastated the country and its capital, Port-au-Prince. It looks like relief work will be all the more difficult since the UN mission's (MINUSTAH) headquarters have apparently been destroyed, as have the facilities of most assistance providers.

I can't think of anything meaningful to add beyond what any normal person would say in response to such a tragedy so I'll leave it at that.

19 comments:

  1. Secretary Clinton announced this morning (or maybe last night) that there would be both civilian and U.S. military participation in the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) mission in Haiti. GEN Fraser, the commander of SOUTHCOM, is briefing on DOD relief efforts at 1230 from the Pentagon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's worse than that: both the head of the mission (SRSG Hedi Annabi) and his deputy are missing, quite possibly killed while meeting with a high-level Chinese delegation when the MINUSTAH HQ collapsed. An estimated 100-150 people were working in it at the time.

    The only bright spots are that very few of the peacekeeping troops were killed (their buildings seem to have generally stayed up) and the airport is still operable. Also, President Preval survived despite early reports that part of the Presidential Palace had collapsed - that could have been a recipe for chaos.

    For a country that was just barely, tentatively beginning to recover from years of violence and four successive hurricanes, this is heartbreaking. Here's hoping that, our myriad other priorities notwithstanding, we can keep this from sinking Haiti back into its pattern of stagnant misery.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and USAID Director Rajiv Shah will be coordinating the US disaster relief efforts.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, and USAID Director Rajiv Shah will be coordinating the US disaster relief efforts.

    On the job just in time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Where best to direct donations do you think? Red Cross, MSF? Either one or both, I suppose.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The hospitals are destroyed (awful). MSF site says they are rushing in nephrologists to deal with crush injuries in addition to others, naturally.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Where best to direct donations do you think? Red Cross, MSF?

    I heard a woman from a relief organization this morning on the radio, and she said that the best way to support the effort was with cash donations directly to organizations like her own. (Then, she would say that, wouldn't she?) Wish I could recall who it was she represented, but unfortunately I don't.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Madhu: Norwegian teams are on the way as well, from what I hear, we have some fieldhospitals in the reserve. I find it amazing that we dont seem to have a rapid reaction force ready for this kind of shit in more countries. In Norway, surgeons have rotations of standby orders (since we are a draftee country). Its voluntary, but it gives some tax-benefits and a chance of action.

    MK: Glad to hear the barracks stood up, at first I thought of a contractor scandal. How old was the building that fell, does anyone know?

    ReplyDelete
  9. PS: I hope Obama sees this as another oppo to use the US navy, like in Aceh and the Kashmir quake.

    ReplyDelete
  10. SOUTHCOM just sent in an initial team of 30 on two C-130s. USCG bird took out four ("critical") in dustoff from U.S. Embassy to GITMO.

    USAF 1st SOW to do the air control and start running the Port au Prince airport. ETA around 1300.

    USN P-3 Orion from FOL Comalapa did the AM recon. USS Carl Vinson already underway, due tomorrow w/ humanitarian ships now attached to SOUTHCOM.

    All is now open record, no classification.

    SNLII

    ReplyDelete
  11. PS: I hope Obama sees this as another oppo to use the US navy, like in Aceh and the Kashmir quake.

    For what it's worth, the Haitians are saying that their highest priority requirement right now is a hospital ship.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gulliver: You got one of those, dont you? ;-)

    It would be a good runthrough for various FEMA folks to do one month rotations there the next 6 months, wouldnt it? Teach them the real thing. Just sayin..

    ReplyDelete
  13. The State Department posted this if you're interested in making a donation:

    "For those interested in helping immediately, simply text "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts, charged to your cell phone bill."

    http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/disaster_haiti

    ReplyDelete
  14. And there's more here too: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/haiti-disaster-relief-how-to-contribute/

    ReplyDelete
  15. And more for guidance on where to give. Thanks to Aid Watch (here: http://aidwatchers.com/2010/01/haiti-earthquake-help-navigating-complex-terrain-of-disaster-relief/) for this link:

    http://informationincontext.typepad.com/good_intentions_are_not_e/

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here's the transcript from GEN Fraser's briefing this afternoon.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The highlights, from a military perspective: Fraser is unwilling to speculate about potential insecurity or governmental instability in the wake of the disaster. The military still does not have a firm grasp on what the security situation is currently, but expects that MINUSTAH (the UN mission in country) will be able to handle whatever force requirements there are in the near term. If that proves not to be the case, the 2nd BCT of the 82d Abn is on alert at Fort Bragg, and two Marine Expeditionary Units are on alert at Camp Lejeune. (One of these MEUs is already expected to be deployed with a large-deck amphibious ship that will provide medical response and other humanitarian aid, similar to the capabilities that would be brought by a hospital ship.)

    According to GEN Fraser, the HS Comfort is on standby and they're considering deployment, despite the fact that according to him it works on rotation with an amphib that can provide similar services. I've seen reports elsewhere (State) that the Comfort will, in fact, be sent.

    That's pretty much it.

    ReplyDelete