The situation in Haiti is worsening by the minute, with shades of Katrina-like questions from the survivors:
"They have told us on the radio that (U.S. President) Obama is sending help to us. So where is it? Explain it to all these people, please," said Donade Mars, organizing refugees camped on the lawn of the prime minister's office.
"How much longer must we wait?"
PORT-AU-PRINCE - Thousands of Haitians flocked out of Port-au-Prince on Saturday in a swelling exodus from the earthquake-shattered city where aid is not reaching the streets fast enough for the homeless, hurt and hungry.
Heading out for the provinces to seek shelter with friends or relatives, many simply walked with bags on their heads and shoulders. Others packed cars and trucks with possessions, lining up for hours at gasoline stations to fill up.
"I have waited for two days, but nothing has arrived, not even a bottle of water," said Yves Manes, walking slowly toward
a main route out of the coastal capital with his wife and two children.
His wife limped with a gashed leg, wrapped in a bloodied T-shirt. "They say there are trucks taking people out of this hell. I have lost all my money, but I will give my clothes, I will give anything, to get out of here," Manes said.
It is quite clear that the 19 distribution points set up the U.S. military, in a city of 3 million, is simply not enough. Haitians, like Katrina survivors in the days after the hurricane, are largely on their own.
Bill Quigley, Constitutional lawyer from New Orleans (he worked with us in our public housing movement that continues), has these "Six Sobering Points" to share on Haiti:
Published on Saturday, January 16, 2010 by CommmonDreams.org
Too Little Too Late for Haiti? Six Sobering Points
by Bill Quigley
Point One. $100 Million - Are You Kidding Me?
President Obama promised $100 million in aid to Haiti on January 14, 2009. A Kentucky couple won $128 million in a Powerball lottery on December 24, 2009. The richest nation in the history of the world is giving powerball money to a neighbor with tens of thousands of deaths already?
Point Two. Have You Ever Been Without Water?
Hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti have had no access to clean water since the quake hit. Have you ever been in a place that has no water? Have you ever felt the raw fear in the gut when you are not sure where your next drink of water is going to come from? People can live without food for a long time. Without water? A very short time. In hot conditions people can become dehydrated in an hour. Lack of water puts you into shock and starts breaking down the body right away. People can die within hours if they are exposed to heat without water.
Point Three. Half the People in Haiti are Kids and They Were Hungry Before the Quake.
Over half the population of Haiti is 15 years old or younger. And they were hungry before the quake. A great friend, Pere Jean-Juste, explained to me that most of the people of Haiti wake every day not knowing how they will eat dinner that day. So there are no reserves, no soup kitchens, no pantries, nothing for most. Hunger started immediately.
Point Four. A Toxic Stew of Death is Brewing.
Take hundreds of thousands of people. Shock them with a major earthquake and dozens of aftershocks. Take away their homes and put them out in the open. Take away all water and food and medical care. Sit them out in the open for days with scorching temperatures. Surround them with tens of thousands of decaying bodies. People have to drink. So they are drinking bad water. They are getting sick. There is no place to go. What happens next?
Point Five. Aid is Sitting at the Airport.
While millions suffer, humanitarian aid is sitting at the Port au Prince airport. Why? People are afraid to give it out for fear of provoking riots. Which is worse?
Point Six. Haiti is Facing A Crisis Beyond Our Worst Nightmares.
"I think it is going to be worse than anyone still understands." Richard Dubin, vice president of Haiti shipping lines told the New York Times.
He is so right. Unless there is a major urgent change in the global response, the world may look back and envy those tens of thousands who died in the quake.
Wake up world!
Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Quigley77@gmail.com
The generosity of individuals has been amazing. We has human beings have stepped forward to carry our weight in this tragedy. The response of governments has been less than stellar, to this tragedy. I hope that it changes soon. It won't though, unless there is a hue and cry and pressure from the grass roots.