17 January 2010

Haiti and the International Reaction

I'm sure most of you have heard about the massive earthquake that occurred in Haiti on Tuesday.  The quake, which measured as a 7.0 on the Richter scale, demolished most of the capital, Port-au-Prince and left thousands of people dead and homeless.  Many of these people have no access to clean water or food, and have been spending nights outside with serious injuries.  Others are still trapped under the rubble of their homes or businesses.  The Parliament building and the Presidential Palace both collapsed, and many of the hospitals in and around the city are structurally unsound and without running water and power.

Thankfully, the international community has reacted quickly and generously, sending millions in aid and thousands of rescue workers to find people and distribute food and water.  This presents a logistics nightmare, however.  Port-au-Prince's harbor and docks are badly damaged, and ships are unable to unload their cargoes.  The USS Carl Vinson is serving as an airborne dock, using helicopters to ferry in supplies.  The airport is a mess as well, with over 50 planes vying for space on the runways.  The US military has taken over operations from the overwhelmed Haitian aircrews.

Although it seems bleak, everyone can contribute.  The UN has made an appeal for $562 million dollars in donations, in order to take care of the nearly 3 million people of Por-au-Prince that are homeless and in need of basic necessities.  The World Food Programme has only been able to feed 13,000 of those 3 million in need.  The US has donated $500 million +, and private donations are still coming in.   Google is running a multi-organization donation page, with links to charities like Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti.  They are also offering free calls to Haiti through Google Voice, as well as links to their Google News service.  http://www.google.com/relief/haitiearthquake/

Please, I urge everyone to make some kind of contribution.  10 cents, a dollar, $5, anything you can spare.  I know many people right here in the US are struggling, but it's the least we can do to help our fellow humans in their time of need.

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