Haiti 2010 Earthquake Response

A plea for tents as international response receives scathing review

As the international response to the January 12 earthquake prepares to enter its third week, government and NGO organizations are focused on finding temporary shelter for roughly a million people who are now homeless.

It could take experts weeks to search out sites suitable for enough tent cities to hold earthquake refugees, according to the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency.

“We also need tents. There is a shortage of tents,” said Vincent Houver, the Geneva-based agency’s chief of mission in Haiti.

The IOM issued an appeal for $30 million for tents and other necessities, but still lacks $10 million.

The current death toll, which will surely change anyway, depends on whom one asks.  The Haitian government reports 150,000 confirmed deaths (around Port-au-Prince) based on figures provided by a state company that collects corpses.  The European Commission released an estimate last week of 200,000 dead. The United Nations, counting recovered bodies, reports 112,250 deaths.

Italian and U.S. officials may be running for cover after scathing remarks by Guido Bertolaso, the head of Italy’s civil protection department.  Sent by the Premier to Haiti on Friday to offer his expertise, Bertolaso observed operations for two days before concluding that the early response efforts were a “pathetic” failure, in part because”no-one is giving orders.”

Meanwhile, there is good news regarding last Friday’s telethon, Hope for Haiti Now.  Preliminary figures show that the star-studded event raised at least $57 million.

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