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Five days later, and still no air-drops to Haiti

January 18, 2010

Still no help for Haiti's earthquake victims

Five days after the Haiti earthquake struck, victims are still waiting for international help to arrive. People who were rescued from collapsed buildings are now dying from infections that could be easily treated with the antibiotic drugs stacked in crates just a hundred miles away.
The US military and air force have so far been unable to reach the earthquake zone to deliver these desperately needed medical supplies to the small island in what it likes to call its “own back yard”.
By contrast, the US Army and Air Force has no trouble at all dropping massive bombs and missiles with “surgical precision” on villages in Afghanistan and before that in Iraq – huge countries thousands of miles away from the US.
If only their medical aid delivery system was even half as efficient as their missile delivery system. But, of course, that would mean saving civilian lives instead of killing civilians, at which they’ve had so much more practice.
To make matters worse, the US military, which is in control of Port-au-Prince’s international airport, has been denying landing permission to relief flights from other countries. Brazil and France have lodged an official ­protest with Washington after US military aircraft were given priority, forcing non-US flights to divert to the Dominican Republic. The Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have also complained about diverted flights.
It appears that the US wants the earthquake relief effort to be seen as a predominantly US initiative – even if this means preventing aid teams from other countries reaching those in need.
The assumption of control by the US military is also fueling suspicions that the US may be taking advantage of the disaster, and the chaos it has caused, to effectively take over Haiti. France’s cooperation minister, Alain Joyandet, criticised the US by saying that aid efforts were supposed to be about helping Haiti, not “occupying” it.

Update 19 Jan: Today, seven days after the earthquake struck, the US military finally began airdrops of food and water into Haiti.

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