Sunday, January 17, 2010

After the crisis

Fresh water and food finally flowed to small pockets of this stricken city Saturday, serving up scenes of anguished unrest as parched and hungry Haitians fought for supplies on the eve of their fifth straight night in the darkened rubble.

Foreign rescue teams finally swung into action on the ground, too, setting up life-saving surgeries and miraculous rescues captured live on cable television.

But whole swaths of Port-au-Prince had yet to receive any help, and homeless Haitians spent the night squatting in the rubble amid the stench of rotting bodies and, as though in unison, offering songs of prayer.

. . . With the seaport too severely damaged for use, aid flowed through the airport and overland from the Dominican Republic -- water, nutritional wafers, medical supplies. U.S. Army helicopters also dropped relief from the sky.

. . . Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, visiting for the day and pledging to be "as responsive as we need to be," ferried home 50 Americans fleeing the disaster zone aboard her U.S. Coast Guard C-130 cargo plane.

President René Préval met privately with Clinton, who proposed a U.S.-led joint-coordinating unit for relief aid and talked about filling the gap left by the death of Tunisian diplomat Hédi Annabi, the chief U.N. envoy whose remains were pulled from the rubble of his headquarters Saturday.

After this crisis is over - - after everyone is fed and clothed and sheltered - - will we again permit a corrupt authoritarian hoodoo / zombie regime to squander billions in aid, until the next disaster?

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