Thursday, 14 January 2010

Devastation in Haiti

The news is rightly dominated by the terrible plight of the earthquake victims in Haiti, particulary the capital, Port au Prince. The current estimates of the number of dead are around 50,000. As in all such disasters, it is the poor that suffer the most. Again, as in all such disasters, the world will rally around and massive amounts of aid will flow into the country. At times like these, borders come down and the greater community shows what it can do.

Perhaps now is not the time to say that, if the world had been kinder to Haiti in the past, the impact of the earthquake might not have been so great? From what I read, the USA and other countries have consistently blocked UN requests to broaden its 'peace keeping' mandate in the country and get involved in humanitarian issues - basically to take part in 'nation building'. Over the years Haiti has suffered from colonial influences and brutal dictatorships. It has not had a chance to build any reasonable infrastructure; neither has the outside world fallen over themselves to assist in this process. It is a poor,unstable, violent country but its people deserve more. Let's hope that when this present disaster passes, effort will be made to take Haiti along the path of constructive development.

A couple of years ago we holidayed in the other half of the island - in the Dominican Republic. This was a very poor country and seemed to be falling apart but it was better than Haiti. Many Haitians worked in the tourist industry in the Dominican Republic and sent money back home to support their families. I have very fond recollections of a Haitian who took us fishing. A very gentle person. He and his family deserve our support.

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