Visits to Haiti by American television cameras and images of suffering — juxtaposed with dramatic music and fancy logos or sad looks on the faces of U.S. politicians as they extend condolences — are not enough.
Sympathy is not enough.
Response to the earthquake in Haiti must be at a level the world has not seen. It is not clear that the message is getting through. Nor is it clear that Haiti will get what it deserves and needs: a new start and the equivalent of a Marshall Plan, war reparations that create a new reality in Haiti.
Already chaos makes small steps impossible. Correspondents in Port-au-Prince report despair, looting and fear of gangs.
Before the quake, the Haitian government functioned, but only thanks to occasional handouts and loans. But the poverty and squalor before last week was shattering and horrible. Now, the Haitian government is virtually obliterated. Survival for millions is at stake.
Words are not enough. Images are not enough.
The challenge for the world is to respond adequately. Neglectful and far from innocent in the progressive
erosion of institutions in Haiti, will the U.S., France and other countries step up now and bring real change?
The work of nonprofits and our individual contributions — crucial though they are — are not enough. We need to build infrastructure, empowering Haitians who are willing and able to act selflessly for the future of their country. And we need vast quantities of money and builders and planners and teachers and doctors.
Any recovery means starting from the beginning — international police and military units on the streets right away, probably led by the United States, to avoid the spread of violence. Next, infrastructure to rescue and treat people to avoid a crisis in which many more people die of injuries or lack of food and water.
Stability for Haiti will take time and endurance. Everything must now change.
- Peter Eisner
For more Worldfocus coverage of Haiti, visit our extended coverage page: Haiti’s Poor.
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