Haiti in chaos

Haiti continues its descent into hell as an aroused world, sending massive amounts of aid, finds bottlenecks due to UN stupidity, US timidity, and a lack of security as 3 million desperate people try to cope with a situation that beggars belief.

Security would seem to be priority #1. But the Obama administration doesn't want to appear to be stepping on anyone's toes:

The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously endorsed a proposal from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send 3,500 more peacekeepers to Haiti to assist in the humanitarian relief effort, but it was not clear how soon they would arrive. Pentagon officials, meanwhile, said they had about 1,700 troops in Haiti, the vanguard of an estimated 5,000 American soldiers and Marines expected to be in the country by midweek."Security is the key now in order for us to be able to put our feet on the ground," said Vincenzo Pugliese, a U.N. spokesman. He said a lack of security had limited peacekeepers' access "to the operational theater" -- the city beyond the U.N. compound's walls. 

The Haitian people are begging for the US Marines to save them:

"We need the Haitian forces to protect us," said Cledanor Sully, owner of a small Port-au-Prince hotel called the Seven Stars. Sully sleeps in a park across the street from his damaged -- but still standing -- hotel, fearful that looters will make off with mattresses and dressers. "We're all scared. We need the United Nations and we need the United States Marines."

Indeed, all over Port-au-Prince, signs begging for help from the Marines have been sprouting. In front of one crushed office building, a typical sign read: "Welcome the U.S. Marine. We need some help. Dead bodies inside." Another read: "U.S. Marines SOS. We need help."

This just isn't going to happen as long as countries like France accuse the US of trying to "occupy" Haiti:

The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the UN to "clarify" the American role amid claims the military build up was hampering aid efforts."This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," Mr Joyandet said.

Geneva-based charity Medecins Sans Frontieres backed his calls saying hundreds of lives were being put at risk as planes carrying vital medical supplies were being turned away by American air traffic controllers.

But US commanders insisted their forces' focus was on humanitarian work and last night agreed to prioritise aid arrivals to the airport over military flights, after the intervention of the UN.

The diplomatic row came amid heightened frustrations that hundreds of tons of aid was still not getting through. Charities reported violence was also worsening as desperate Haitians took matters into their own hands.

Alain Joyandet admitted he had been involved in a scuffle with a US commander in the airport's control tower over the flight plan for a French evacuation flight.

Clearly, the US commander is concerned about security so that aid can be distributed while the UN is concerned about covering its behind by getting the aid into the country and then claiming it's doing all it can. The fact that the aid will sit at the airport until security is established for its release is lost in this bureaucratic maneuvering.

Is the Obama administration doing all it can and is it performing competently? A reasonable response to that would be yes, although one wishes that the US would assert itself a little more since we have the ships and men in place to supply the most help. But in the strange world of international aid, no one nation apparently can be seen as doing more than another.




Haiti continues its descent into hell as an aroused world, sending massive amounts of aid, finds bottlenecks due to UN stupidity, US timidity, and a lack of security as 3 million desperate people try to cope with a situation that beggars belief.

Security would seem to be priority #1. But the Obama administration doesn't want to appear to be stepping on anyone's toes:

The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously endorsed a proposal from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to send 3,500 more peacekeepers to Haiti to assist in the humanitarian relief effort, but it was not clear how soon they would arrive. Pentagon officials, meanwhile, said they had about 1,700 troops in Haiti, the vanguard of an estimated 5,000 American soldiers and Marines expected to be in the country by midweek.

"Security is the key now in order for us to be able to put our feet on the ground," said Vincenzo Pugliese, a U.N. spokesman. He said a lack of security had limited peacekeepers' access "to the operational theater" -- the city beyond the U.N. compound's walls. 

The Haitian people are begging for the US Marines to save them:

"We need the Haitian forces to protect us," said Cledanor Sully, owner of a small Port-au-Prince hotel called the Seven Stars. Sully sleeps in a park across the street from his damaged -- but still standing -- hotel, fearful that looters will make off with mattresses and dressers. "We're all scared. We need the United Nations and we need the United States Marines."

Indeed, all over Port-au-Prince, signs begging for help from the Marines have been sprouting. In front of one crushed office building, a typical sign read: "Welcome the U.S. Marine. We need some help. Dead bodies inside." Another read: "U.S. Marines SOS. We need help."

This just isn't going to happen as long as countries like France accuse the US of trying to "occupy" Haiti:

The French minister in charge of humanitarian relief called on the UN to "clarify" the American role amid claims the military build up was hampering aid efforts."This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti," Mr Joyandet said.

Geneva-based charity Medecins Sans Frontieres backed his calls saying hundreds of lives were being put at risk as planes carrying vital medical supplies were being turned away by American air traffic controllers.

But US commanders insisted their forces' focus was on humanitarian work and last night agreed to prioritise aid arrivals to the airport over military flights, after the intervention of the UN.

The diplomatic row came amid heightened frustrations that hundreds of tons of aid was still not getting through. Charities reported violence was also worsening as desperate Haitians took matters into their own hands.

Alain Joyandet admitted he had been involved in a scuffle with a US commander in the airport's control tower over the flight plan for a French evacuation flight.

Clearly, the US commander is concerned about security so that aid can be distributed while the UN is concerned about covering its behind by getting the aid into the country and then claiming it's doing all it can. The fact that the aid will sit at the airport until security is established for its release is lost in this bureaucratic maneuvering.

Is the Obama administration doing all it can and is it performing competently? A reasonable response to that would be yes, although one wishes that the US would assert itself a little more since we have the ships and men in place to supply the most help. But in the strange world of international aid, no one nation apparently can be seen as doing more than another.