Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Haiti : It's a security circus now

As more and more foreign troops pour into Haiti -

Star : Canada rides to the rescue in Haiti
2,000 more soldiers flooding into Haiti with navy ships to help with security, relief
- Doctors Without Borders report five of their planes, including one containing a field hospital, have been refused permission to land by the US controlled airport.

Dr. Evan Lyon at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince via Democracy Now:

"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. Security issues over the last forty-eight hours have been our—quote “security issues” over the last forty-eight hours have been our leading concern. And there are no security issues.

I’ve been with my Haitian colleagues. I’m staying at a friend’s house in Port-au-Prince. We’re working for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I’m living and moving with friends. We’ve been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There’s no UN guards. There’s no US military presence. There’s no Haitian police presence. And there’s also no violence. There is no insecurity."

CBC, today :

"About 7,000 UN military peacekeepers and 2,100 international police are in Haiti. Ban said Monday he asked the UN Security Council to add 2,000 troops and 1,500 police.
About 180 tonnes of relief supplies arrived Saturday, but people on the street say none of it is reaching them.
Geneva-based Doctors Without Borders said: "There is little sign of significant aid distribution."
Why these poor people are not rioting after a full week of this I have no idea.

Update : From Ian Welsh via Pogge in comments :
"The longer “security” is used as a reason not to distribute food, water and medical supplies the more angry and desperate Haitians will become, and thus the worse the security situation will be. Troops which are not actually providing security for actual distribution of supplies, by taking up airlift capacity which could be used for relief, make the security situation worse rather than better."
And remember Airshow Mackay proudly sending off two Canadian destroyers to Haiti "loaded with supplies and relief" ? Well, they've arrived :
"HMCS Athabaskan brings little in terms of actual food and water, but is more equipped to provide support to existing agencies, to provide leadership in chaotic communities and to better assess their needs and priorities."
Jesus wept. Maybe they can reconnoiter the Haitians up some mud pies.


pogge said...

Ian Welsh: An Observation On Haiti

chris said...

There was a diary on Daily Kos, which I can't find now of course, about the logistics of the operation. The author made the point that over 600 planes had landed,unloaded and taken of from this.
The author made the point that the planes have to land, turn around, and taxi back up THE single runway to be unloaded. Then of course the plane has to taxi back down the runway to take off.
So, I'm impressed. Somebody's handling over 100 planes, many of them very large, a day on a single runway with no taxiway. The fact that some don't get to land is hardly surprising.
That said, I don't get the rest of it at all. But I suspect that putting the US military in charge has a lot to do with it. To the man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

chris said...

Oops! sorry.
Link to PaP airport from Google maps.

Mark Groen said...

Here's more info on the airport:


Anonymous said...

I think the small size of the airport is rather the point given that there's 9000 UN and 2000 US troops already on the ground there.
Yes, by all means, hats off to the air traffic controllers for shifting 100 planes a day in a tiny single runway airport, but wouldn't it make more sense if those planes were carrying food, water, and medicine instead of more troops and artillery?

Despite getting prior clearance from the US State Dept, MSF continues to get turned back when they arrive.

This is starting to look like 2004.

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