Haiti: After the Earthquake
On the 12th of January 2010 an earthquake of the magnitude 7.0 has rocked the state of Haiti to its core. In less than a minute Haiti was broken apart. A nation and its people suffered devastating destruction. The world responded to the crisis promising to put Haiti back again, better than before. According to the United Nations the earthquake killed at least 220 000 people and left more than one and a half million homeless. In the time after the catastrophe it was not only the natural, but also human made tragedies that have shaped this country into what it is today.
More than 12 hours after the earthquake, the only sign of international response was one cargo plane from Venezuela. Some survivors were convinced Armageddon had begun and that Jesus Christ was soon to return. The messiah failed to appear. But most surprisingly, so did help from outside. Three days after the earthquake Haitians were still digging victims from the rubble by hand. Family members were struggling to get to the bodies of their relatives buried under tons of concrete. Stories like these have been reported all over the country. And the question everyone was asking was: Where were the rescue teams? One of the explanations that have been found to account for the lack of international rescue workers in the streets following the earthquake was that there were security concerns.
Two complete different views of the situation have been blocking the way for the rescue of survivals. On the one side were local people fully under control over the situation, which wanted to help their own people. On the other side were the UN troops, totally unprepared and uncoordinated. A chief rescuer, who evaluated the situation, described it as one of hostility and danger. This anticipation of angry Haitians looting on the streets seemed to affect other aspects of the international rescue effort. Haitians waiting for help have become spectators of the landing of military soldiers and weapons, instead of medical aid. The feeling of fear was all over the minds of the foreigners, who came to Haiti. They have been fed with this propaganda for so long that they’ve become prisoners of it.
Three years later, the outlook for Haiti’s future is a lot less clear. The media spotlight has moved away from Haiti. The cameras are gone, as are most of the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that rushed to provide emergency care. The big international entities with histories in Haiti, like the U.N. and the United Nations Development Program, remain, but much of the promised aid money was never delivered. The consensus, in Haiti and abroad, is that little progress has been made, and a sense of pessimism has enveloped the country and its million-strong overseas community.