Thursday, 21 January 2010

Nothing like a disaster to bring out the worst in people...

So far it is estimated that more than 200,000 people have died in Haiti since the massive earthquake that struck the island nation - perhaps the unluckiest on the planet - last week.

I have in turns been saddened, angered, moved, and motivated, by the stories that have come trickling out of the island in recent days.

But the ones that have truly appalled me have all related to groups, gangs or states for whom the disaster isn't alll bad news, and who have seixed an opportunity to further their own ends.

I'm not talking about the desperate, the hungry and the homeless in Haiti, some of whom have reportedly resorted to violence, looting, banditry and theft: these are, in the main, survival tactics and hardly a surprising response to tragedy on a massive scale and a desparate plight.

No, I'm thinking of the child traffickers, the ultra right-wing economists at the heart of the international money machine - and even the Israeli government, never one to miss a trick when it comes to exploiting someone else's suffering for a bit of good PR.

Oh and let's not forget  the bankers, taking a cut of all donations made - and those nations refusing to cancel Haiti's foreign debt regardless of whether that means rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts will be set back or not.

As well as donations and relief efforts, the people of Haiti - and thus all of us - need several things, and we need them now - and these things will onlt happen if international support for them is driven by our Governments. That means getting MPs everywhere to support them:

  • The cancelation of all foreign debt owed by Haiti
  • A commitment by the International Monetary Fund to halt all efforts to force privatisation and pay freezes on the battered public sector in Haiti as a condition of help
  • Increased international efforts to stamp out all forms of child trafficking and slavery funded through additional commitments to help Haiti made in recent and coming days
  • More money for relief efforts - from individuals and governments: and a ban on banks and credit card companies charging fees on emergency relief donations

So come on Des Turner - please make such a statement urgently.


  1. Ben - I think you might have misjudged that link to Tony Greenstein's blog - what I read of it smacked of pure hatred of all things Israeli. I'm no fan of the Israeli government, but I'm not so cynical as to condemn them for sending rescue teams to Haiti - they have among the most experienced teams in the world in this work.

  2. Well said Sue.

    This is also quite interesting on the subject.