Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Haiti: Are the Rescuers Afraid of the Victims?
In Haiti, another aftershock, even as the slow motion nightmare continues. Food and water and medical supplies at the airport. But not where they are desperately needed.
Is it just a logistical problem or is it something worse?
Are the rescuers afraid of the people they are supposed to save?
There has now solidified a consensus among aid organisations that the relief they are bringing is itself a liability; that distributing what Haitians are dying for – literally – will bring on a second nightmare. So, supplies pile up at the airport because, apparently, the Haitians need to be fed and watered at gunpoint. And there aren't enough men with guns to provide this totemic "security" and there aren't enough trucks to move the supplies around the country.
And is the media part of the problem?
Frei's reluctance to recognise the amazing self-control of these desperate people, and instead to amplify the hysteria about violence for which he has scant evidence, has brought him at times worryingly close to calling the Haitians savages.
When considering how much they are suffering the Haitians have been amazingly restrained. Staring at food on the other side of a fence that they can't have.
Is it because they're poor?
Furthermore, to the horror of many godfearing Americans, voodoo is an officially recognised religion in Haiti. And, perhaps above all, Haitians are poor and black. In the view of some Americans those two add up to ... murderous gangs.
Is it madness?
Or is it just racism rearing its ugly head again?
I hope not.
Because if that is the case, it will taint this rescue effort forever.
And all I can say is thank goodness for these heroes.
And the strength of the Haitian people.
Because the ugly truth is that when they needed us the most.
The world let them down...