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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 28, 2010

TWO HAITIS

Caroline Graham, Daily Mail, UK - It is a tale of two cities. One has ice-cold beers, internet access, thousands of men and billions of dollars' worth of gleaming machinery, together with piles of food, blankets, generators and other aid relief from around the globe.

This is the heavily fortified US-controlled Port-au-Prince airport and neighboring United Nations compound.

The other is the devastated city of Port-au-Prince, where the stench of death fills the air and starving people are in utter despair, still in need of the basic necessities of food, water, shelter and medical care.

Never, in more than 20 years of covering disasters, has the void between the might and power of the Westernized world and the penniless and pitiful people they have been mobilized to 'save' been so glaringly obvious to me.

Despite a vast worldwide aid effort – spurred on by pleas from celebrities such as George Clooney– the lack of help reaching those who need it is such that even aid agencies on the ground are now admitting they have fallen woefully short.

Alejandro Chicheri, Press officer for the UN-funded World Food Programme, said: 'Of course we would like to be doing more to help the people on the streets but the logistics are a nightmare. 'These things take time and we are going as fast as we can.'

. . . The airport, now fully under the control of the US military, is like something out of a Hollywood action film. Choppers whirl overhead.

Huge vehicles rumble around filled with men in uniform. Large passenger and cargo jets, emblazoned with flags from around the globe, sit on the tarmac.

Some were being emptied of their crates of food, milk powder, rice and water. Others just sat idle.

Swarms of US military personnel and coastguards were busying themselves by working on their gleaming vehicles and aircraft.

Hundreds of blue-helmeted UN soldiers lined one edge of the runway but, during the hour I watched them, went nowhere as they visibly started wilting in the blazing 32C Caribbean heat.

. . . I spoke to Christian minister Brent Gambrell who was one of the first to arrive, just eight hours after the earthquake hit.

Supplies sit at the airport, with authorities unable to send it out to people who need it

. . . 'It was chaos for the first few days. The airport closed down because they couldn't handle the flights wanting to come in. There was no organisation until the US military got involved.

'But it has become more difficult to actually move the stuff out of here and get it to the people who need it. There is so much red tape and bureaucracy.'


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