Haiti Earthquake: International Rescue Efforts Begin in Earnest Today

by Mark Leon Goldberg

The first wave of international rescue and relief efforts will touch down on the ground in Haiti today.  As that happens,  the scale of the disaster is likely to come to light. I fear that it will be worse than we can imagine. For the UN, this will likely be the single worst tragedy in its history.

At a press briefing this morning, the UN announced fourteen confirmed peacekeeping fatalities.  Three Jordanian soldiers, ten Brazillian soldiers, and one Haitian civilian peacekeeper have died. At a press briefing this morning, a UN spokesperson said we can expect this number to climb.  The good news is that ten people have been extracted alive, but injured, from the collapsed UN headquarters today.  UN Peacekeeping head Alan Le Roy said that 150 UN peacekeeping officials are  still unnacounted for. 

A UN spokesperson also says that rescue efforts lack certain critical excavation equipment and engineering expertise on the ground. However, they expect a Chinese search and rescue team to arrive on the scene shortly and an American team to arrive later in the day.

Meanwhile, RAMHaiti a Twitter user who has been providing valuable updates for the last two days says, "Jacmel:witness report;10,000 w/o homes,30% of homes damage,roads blocked to city..this is from a witness;unconfirmed but gives an impression." and "I got a call from Jacmel and an email from Jacmel, a school collapsed w/children inside.there is a refugee camp."

For more on Haiti and the rest of the world, go to UN Dispatch at www.undispatch.com


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