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Opinions: Haiti Relief, Recovery Efforts

Effective Coordination Required In Haiti, Earthquake Evokes ‘Wider Responsibilities’

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon asserts in a Washington Post opinion piece that assistance “has poured forth from nations and international organizations commensurate with the scale of this disaster [in Haiti]. … We need to make sure the help that is mobilized gets to the people who need it, as fast as possible. Ensuring that essential supplies do not sit in warehouses requires strong and effective coordination – the international community working as one, with the United Nations in the lead.”

Ban calls for aid responders to be “grouped into well-defined ‘clusters,’ so that the efforts of the various organizations complement rather than duplicate one another.” He notes a “health cluster run by the World Health Organization,” which “is organizing medical assistance among 21 international agencies.” Ban writes that “Haiti’s plight is a reminder of our wider responsibilities,” referring to the Millennium Development Goals. “Great strides have been made toward some of these ambitious ‘millennium goals,’ … Yet progress in other critical areas lags badly. We are very far from delivering on our promises of a better future for the world’s poor,” according to Ban, who calls for the world to “keep in mind this larger picture” (1/19).

Foreign Aid Won’t Help Haiti

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, the newspaper’s Deputy Editorial Page Editor Bret Stephens writes that in Haiti “just about every conceivable aid scheme beyond immediate humanitarian relief will lead to more poverty, more corruption and less institutional capacity. It will benefit the well-connected at the expense of the truly needy, divert resources from where they are needed most, and crowd out local enterprise. And it will foster the very culture of dependence the country so desperately needs to break.” He points to a recent report on foreign aid in Haiti to support his point.

“A better approach recognizes the real humanity of Haitians by treating them – once the immediate and essential tasks of rescue are over – as people capable of making responsible choices. Haiti has some of the weakest property protections in the world, as well as some of the most burdensome business regulations. In 2007, it received 10 times as much in aid ($701 million) as it did in foreign investment. Reversing those figures is a task for Haitians alone, which the outside world can help by desisting from trying to kill them with kindness,” Stephens writes. He concludes, “Anything short of that and the hell that has now been visited on this sad country will come to seem like merely its first circle” (1/19).

U.S. Should Facilitate Major Haitian Reconstruction, But Can’t Do It Alone

President Barack “Obama should recognize that the U.S. government alone lacks the means, attention span and true regard for Haiti that is needed to see this through past the most urgent phase,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. Sachs calls for the internationalization of the earthquake relief effort, outlines what he thinks it should look like and states that it should “quickly and seamlessly transform into reconstruction and development.” He then argues the need for a Haiti Recovery Fund, and what such an effort could accomplish.

“Obama should seek an immediate appropriation of at least $1 billion this year and next for a Haiti Recovery Fund, and ask other countries and international agencies to fill in the rest. The obvious way for Washington to cover this new funding is by introducing special taxes on Wall Street bonuses,” Sachs writes. “The United States will suffer a slow moral death unless it responds to the extreme distress of a neighbor,” he concludes (1/18).

Clinton , Bush Outline Haiti Relief Plan

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush outline their plans to raise private-sector money for Haiti relief in a New York Times opinion piece. “Our first priority will be to raise funds to meet the urgent needs of those who are hurt, homeless and hungry, and to ensure that the organizations and relief workers on the ground have the resources to do their jobs effectively. In the first two weeks, the needs are very simple: food, water, shelter, first aid supplies,” they write.

Clinton and Bush note that rebuilding can bring “solutions that address the inequalities in health care and education,” among other things. “There are great reasons to hope. … Haitian leaders have shown determination in confronting the challenges of AIDS, with strong support from private organizations and the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,” they write before concluding with a call to action (1/16).