Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Situation in Haiti

The earthquake in Haiti has apparently completely devastated portions of that country. American and UN troops have been dispatched in order to help distribute aid and help try and restore order.

American troops have occupied the presidential palace area and have taken over operation of the airport in Port-au-Prince. The US military has managed to expand airport operations from the pre-quake volume of 3 flights per week to 100 flights a day. They are also in the process of improving two other airports, one in the Haitian town of Jacmal and the other in the Dominican Republic, to accept additional aid flights. American Airlines says it has warehouses full of relief supplies that it is unable to fly into Port-au-Prince.

The UN has approved increasing its forces in Haiti from 7,000 troops and 2,100 police to 9,000 troops and 3,600 police as law and order in the capitol appears to have completely collapsed. There are reports that looting is rampant and that some locals have been forced to form night brigades armed with machetes to fight off bandits.

The US military has deferred peacekeeping and policing activities to the UN forces but says that its troops have been instructed that they may defend themselves or Haitian civilians should the need arise. Offshore there are an additional 2,000 US Marines and the Pentagon has indicated that more troops are on the way to help distribute aid. Italy, Spain and Venezuela have indicated that they are also sending naval ships to the area.

It’s difficult to say for certain but the current estimates are that some 200,000 people have been killed, an additional 250,000 injured and up to 1.5 million made homeless by the quake.

If those numbers are even close to accurate, the rescue task is going to be almost impossible. How do you cope with a disaster of this magnitude? I guess you simply put your head down and go to it. I sent $100 to the Red Cross but that’s utterly insignificant in the face of this calamity. I better send some more.

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