Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Resources To Where They Have To Go

Logistics is the key to rebuilding Haiti and serving the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who have been rendered homeless by the January 11 earthquake. It means getting the right personnel to the right places with the right tools at hand to deal with the needs of the people.

It means that a seeming surplus of doctors at some facilities needs to be addressed by sending them to where they can best provide services and with the appropriate level of equipment to make their work possible. While there is a surplus of doctors, the need for nurses and physical therapists will be high for a long time to come, particularly with the large number of people who required amputations to survive their injuries and those who had fractures who need rehabilitation.

The US Navy and Coast Guard contingent of 30 ships present or soon to arrive in Haiti continues to serve as a platform from which NGOs can send relief to areas around Haiti. The USS Bataan took aboard 450 pallets of goods, primarily for NGO efforts to be distributed by the Bataan's sailors and Marines. Guantanamo Bay remains a central hub for the US relief efforts.

Meanwhile, a 7-year old boy from London, England, Charlie Simpson,  has managed to raise £100,000 (that's more than $160,000) for the relief efforts. That's most impressive.

The UN hopes to start putting Haitians to work clearing the rubble so that rebuilding can begin. That's an essential need, since tent cities are not a long term solution and with the upcoming hurricane season, it presents deadly urgency to move people into sturdy structures. The Haitian government met with other nations and groups in Canada to discuss rebuilding efforts.

And, as I've previously noted, the media is already starting to go back to its routine news cycle and interest in Haiti will wane and attention will shift elsewhere. Some are fretting about the change in coverage, but I'm most concerned that the rebuilding efforts get underway.

There's some concern from officials that because the Haitian government has been all but absent following the quake, that there are going to be unscrupulous individuals hoping to take advantage of the anarchy and attempt to bring out orphans that might not actually be orphans (to engage in human trafficking). It's a situation not unlike that which found Zoe's Ark in hot water with French and Chadian authorities. They attempted to smuggle out 80 kids who were victims of the Darfur genocide, and they didn't have permission to do so. It was human trafficking. Those involved with that scheme were sentenced to hard time in Chad.

UNICEF and human rights groups are right to be concerned about such exploitation.

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