After some ten days in Santo Domingo a certain state of mind has emerged. We still do not know which daywe will be allowed to go back to Haiti and even after receiving permission everything will be depending on the situation there. Of course we have to make sure that fuel, water, food and medical care, alongside a generally secure environment allows us to work in a acceptable atmosphere.
After some ten days here we have also had enough time to rethink and reidentify the major events of the last three weeks. I was able to read a lot of stuff and analyze to some extent what has been happening on the international as well as on the insular level in the aftermath of the earthquake. By now already some two billion USD have been spent or at least pledged for Haiti. On the other hand a rather childish struggle was created by some of the major donor countries and troop suppliers. Out of them the US, France and Brazil showed up as the most virulent savers of the Haiti. I am not really sure whether this kind of diplomatic struggle for power has actually helped during the rescue and rehabilitation process in Port-au-Prince and other cities. The UN on its side has mobilized a lot of necessary and hopefully fructuous measures as for example the deployment of further MINUSTAH capacities and a massive action of OCHA, WFP, FAO und Unicef. Though it seems that within these campaign a lot of national interest is driving aid rather than joint worldwide humanitarian action. The US on its side were capable to take control of the capital, including the capital. They establish a curfew and showed a certain severity concerning other “partners” willing to include themselves in the rescue caroussel. France was not the only example.
On the insular level my feeling is a bit different. Being here in the Dominican Republic I realized one of the few really positive consequences of this catastrophy. The Dominicans are well engaged in providing own aid and channelling international supplies via their airports and frontiers. All that happens along to a relative détente of the formerly difficult relations between the two neighbouring states. When aggressive rhetorics escpecially in terms of migration and economic issues have reigned the political and popular discourse for a long time, now a strrong wave of solidarity touched the country andthe general attidude towards Haiti has sharply improved. For sure there are still negative vibrations, like a couple of sectarian Dominican priests inventing apocalyptic phantasms and telling their followers why the Dominican Republic was rescued while the Haitian Voodoo admirers were punished. But that is what we heard from other stupid guys like Pat Robertson in the US…
Besides analyzing the political impact of this earthquake we try to engage ourselves in any other kind of activities. I admit not feeling very productive at the moment but at least we try. It is not easy though. Wednesday for example we were searching for the Haitian children said to be transferred to Santo Domingo due to their physical situation and the need for complicated operations. We spent a whole day looking at every major hospital here but we had no success. Albeit we could gain a rough impression of the medical situation in the Dominican Republic (colleagues of mine have been to other hospitals in Jimani and Dajabon, two frontier cities) and noted the total amount of Haitian patients was not as high as I would have thought. Nevertheless their misery must not be underestimated and there is no means to find out how much other people in need of special medical treatment are stuck on the search for an adequate hospital or in one of the numerous smaller low-equipped clinics in Haiti. I do not have a lot of information about the famous hospital ship of the US, but I really hope its deployment could at least levy the situation in the capital.
Finally then we received some news about Hinche. Our Haitan colleagues there have been impossible to reach for quite a few days and we already began to worry. Now I got a message including an action plan which has been elaborated in order to cope with the probable influx of high numbers of IDPs (internal displaced people, zhich means refugees who do not cross a national border). First I was happy to see, that the comittee there we had helped to establish, finally took action and made a plan for the weeks to come. Reading the document though I had to resignate to some extent. The plans elaborated in the frame of this committee are actually not feasible at this point of time where resources are this concentrated in Port-au-Prince and maybe Jacmel and Leogane. I apologize for not going into detail so much, but just two examples: Of course the roads around Hinche are quite bad, but this cannot be one of the first priorities now and no international donor is willing to spent millions of dollars for that now. Secondly, the identified the need for tents, for water and food. Maybe the proposed figures are adequate but they gave no information about how that food can be distributed, how it can be stored, what food it should be.
You might remember my complaints concerning professionality uttered awhile ago – this is another instance confirming them. I do not want to criticize or pretend I would doing better. It is just – in the spirit of partnership – that we cannot provide them support if we have not elaborated concise and countable fatcs that we might provide to our contacts. In the case of the hospital of Hinche two weeks ago we had to insist for auite a long time to get a real detailed list of what is needed. Some days after the trucks arrived. With some luck this could happen again now, but not without a carefully planned and well calculated basis. Anyway, I hope we will be back soon to improve the cooperation with our friend in Hinche, because the number of IDPs has apparently attained several thousands there…