HAITI CRISIS UPDATE: Saving Lives With No Relief
For the past few days I've been immersed in my own efforts to help the people of Haiti. This heart wrenching update is very important. Please pass this along to your friends! We need official intervention to ease some of these major operational issues.
Amber Lynn Munger, January 16, 2010. 7am: The gunfire spread last night to our zone. At 1 am it started. It was off in the distance a ways when it first started but got closer and closer up until about 2:30 and then it seemed to stop. All of the homeless on the streets and in the refugee camps again met the chaos with loud singing, clapping and prayers. I am at the Matthew 25 house in Delmas 33.
Here we have set up a triage hospital with more than 1,300 refugees on a soccer field. The people at Matthew 25 have been traveling all over the city trying to figure out what clinics and hospitls are operational, what services they can provide and what the needs are.
There is no visible coordination effort from international agencies on the ground. There were no planes coming in yesterday. One of my coordinating partners, AMURT-Haiti, worked to find a plane of 30-40 doctors and supplies that could come, but the plane was not allowed to land in the PAP airport.
We have teams in the Dominican Republic with truckloads of supplies, but they were stopped at the border and were not allowed entry. The situation here is desperate and getting restless. The John Hopkins Students who were visiting Rights based Haiti and AMURT when the earthquake hit, have been doing surveys and assessments of the clinics and refuggee camps in the nearby zones. The surveys that they conducted two days ago show that none of the people in the camps had food or water to last them more than a day.
Here at Matthew 25, we have been doing amputations, and other painful surgeries, with no painkillers, no anesthesia, nothing to work with. There are no tools for our doctors. We have numerous Haitian doctors and nurses here but no supplies! We have run out of antibiotics twice but then found them by searching at nearby clinics run by missions and NGOs. We have heard nothing from MINUSTAH.
I have not seen any of the international agencies on the ground. I have seen belgian doctors and cuban doctors all doing amazing work - but we have not seen or received any contact or assistance from higher agencies ourselves.
The city has run out of water and food - but the biggest problem is gas and diesel. The little that trickles in to the one or two gas stations is the subject of fights that will soon become rioting. At matthew 25, there no diesel to run the generator. We are using the last power that the inverter has that may cut out at any time. Our vehicles are all on their last ounce of fuel. I have sent one of my trusted staff and friends who worked closely with me during the gonaives emergency in 2008 to find gas this morning. I am afraid for him. There is no way for him to communicate with me because there is no phone service in the country.
Now we are also running out of money. I gave my last cash today to pay for gas, a little bit of food, and a spare tire for one of our vehicles to replace one that was stolen. The nearest western union is two hours north in St. Marc and we are not sure if that is still functioning.
An added pressure on the city right now is that, due to the lack of communications, many people from the provinces are coming to search for their loved ones. They then add to the numbers of people stuck in PAP with no way out, no food, or water. All of the problems that exist in catastrophes, we are experiencing now. how to dispose of the bodies, the human waste, how to move people out of the city. Everyone here is fearing rain because they think that the first rain will move the earth under the standing houses causing those buildings to fall as well. Each day more things fall.
I am coordinating with AMURT, KONPAY, Beyond Borders, Matthew 25, and many other partners on an integrated response that will help us get through the next week as well as prepare us to deal with the coming months of insecurity. We have coordinated the shipment of diesel from the open port in cap-haitian, the use of a shipping company to haul fuel from the DR to PAP, the use of a large protected storage compound to store the fuel. We have Haitian volunteers working with the John Hopkin team to conduct the surveys to provide us important data on the numbers and locations of people who are in need of medical care, so that when help and supplies arrive, we are able to efficiently get people to where they need to go. We have worked with grassroots leaders in Commune Anse ROuge to gather information throughout the commune on family names and locations in PAP so that each village can send on e or two people to search for loved ones in PAP rather than everyone from the villages going into the disaster zone.
In general, we are being used as a place for information exchange. Journalists, and organizational representatives are checking in daily to give updates and share information which i then share with my contact at KONPAY who then shares the information with the larger network of NGOS that we are coordinating with.
Until MINUSTAH is able to re-establish a coordination base, we are making the MAtthew 25 house the coordination headquarters for our operations. Haitians are helping each other in glorious acts of compassion and kindness every where you look. These people have endured so much unspeakable and unnecessary suffering. I am today, as always, blessed to be walking with them in their struggle to overcome their awful and unfair circumstances, and am even more blessed to be sharing in the strength of spirit that makes each one of them my hero.
Our partners also need your help! AMURT-Haiti and Beyond Borders are helping us to coordinate our efforts. We are all working together to share resources to assist haitians during this disaster. Please send your donations to Konpay, to AMURT-Haiti, or Beyond Borders to help us! Amber Lynn Munger, J.D.