Thursday, 21 January 2010

What’s happening in Haiti?

One of best sources of on-the-ground interviews and reports I’ve seen are coming from US internet radio and TV network Democracy Now, which has several reporters in Haiti.

Speaking to Democracy Now, Dr Evan Lyon – currently working at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital – contradicts mainstream media reports that violence from Hatian people themselves is holding up the relief effort:
One thing that I think is really important for people to understand is that misinformation and rumors and, I think at the bottom of the issue, racism has slowed the recovery efforts of this hospital... And there are no security issues... And there’s also no violence. There is no insecurity.

Also from Democracy Now, reporter Sharif Abdel Kouddous, describes why why some Haitians are getting angry at the way they are being treated by US and UN military and some aid agencies:
Yesterday, when we were in Léogâne, we were—we came to an area where a helicopter from a Mormon charity had landed. It was on the ground, and there was Haitians all around, young and old, waiting for food to be handed out. This helicopter took off, off the ground, and began throwing the food down at the Haitians. It did not distribute it when it was on the ground. They threw the food from the air. These were packets of bread that they were throwing.

It ignited just fury and indignation on the ground by the people there. They began screaming. One man started crying. He said, “We are a proud people. We are not dogs for you to throw bones at.”

It was a scene that I will never forget. And it really illustrates the problem with aid distribution here and the relief efforts here, that they are—they are not seen as people. As Haitians keep saying, they say, “This can happen to anybody. How would you like to be treated in this way?”

Writing in UK Times, author and aid specialist Linda Polman sites similar examples and argues ‘Fear of the poor is hampering Haiti rescue’. [Hat tip to].

British blog Lenin’s Tomb has also taken up this issue in a series of posts, here and here.

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