My meeting Thursday morning with President Clinton (Special UN Envoy to Haiti), Dr. Paul Farmer (Deputy Special Envoy) and about 50 other concerned people from the U.S. Government, the private sector and the NGO community had the sense of urgency one would expect under the circumstances. While there is very little of a positive nature at this point in the crisis, President Clinton is clearly taking this catastrophe personally. That has to be a good thing.
President Clinton stressed repeatedly that the overwhelming priority this week is finding the living and dead, attending to the living and respecting the dead in order to preserve life, respect Haitian cultural traditions and avoid a public health nightmare. In other words, first rescue then recovery then reconstruction of the nation.
He and the other commentators also stressed:
- If you’re not a relief worker or medical professional and you want to help, make a cash donation. Cash is king as supplies may not last until they reach their targets.
- Huge unknowns and misinformation are realities of the moment
- Food, water, power, shelter, first aide, lighting and satellite phones are needed. Although all clean water is helpful, reverse osmosis capability would really help.
- The relief and medical workers need quality emergency housing and facilities
- There is great willingness to help. What is required is the organized reception and channeling of aide. In other words, there must be strong communications and logistical support otherwise what people send will not get through. This is a question of coordination and implementation in unprecedented circumstances.
- As intense as the immediate rescue operation is, Haiti needs to begin to develop a long term plan for recovery and reconstruction – short term decisions should be understood in a long-term context if at all possible.
Obviously a well intentioned meeting in New York can only have a limited practical impact on the ground in Port-au-Prince. But I was heartened by a number of exchanges and comments that seemed to resonate with President Clinton and Paul Farmer and may very well make a difference in the upcoming days and weeks. I sure hope so.
I don’t want anyone to miss out on John Weis’ comments, so please check out the previous entry if you haven’t already. We are looking forward to a successful call by Independence of the Seas today (Friday).
Interested in helping? Royal Caribbean International is working with Food For The Poor and the Pan American Development Foundation. We encourage guests to make monetary donations to either of these organizations which are currently engaged in the relief effort. For even more information on Royal Caribbean’s humanitarian relief to Haiti, click HERE.