In Haiti, it seems as if the aftershocks never stop.
There have been scores of the seismic variety since the earthquake that shook the country’s southwestern peninsula Aug. 14, killing more than 2,200, injuring and maiming thousands more, and leaving tens of thousands homeless, many living on the street. Now there is rising fury at the listless response by an interim government that lacks political legitimacy and resources. Neither the temblor, nor the tropical storm that followed it, has moderated the terror and gang violence that plague Haitians — and have interfered with what modest relief efforts are underway.
Haiti, appallingly poor and chronically hurting, is desperate. In sizable towns and remote villages, houses are collapsed or unsafe for dwelling. Hundreds of schools have been badly damaged or destroyed, leaving tens of thousands of children, at a conservative estimate, with little prospect of education in the coming months. In areas reeling from the earthquake, hospitals, too, are partially or fully in ruins — and this in a country where health care was already badly inadequate.ADVERTISING
The disasters have also battered the country’s wobbly infrastructure, leaving roads nearly impassable and water supplies fouled, in some places by unrecovered bodies. A resurgence of cholera — introduced by Nepalese peacekeepers after another, even more massive quake in 2010 — is a threat.
International relief efforts in Haiti have a checkered history, to put it mildly, and many Haitians have a jaundiced view of charitable agencies that sweep through the country but seem to leave little lasting improvement in their wake. The provisional prime minister, Ariel Henry, says that this time he will “personally ensure” that the mismanagement and waste that beset the relief effort a decade ago will not be repeated. There’s little reason to believe he can make a difference.
Despite long-standing political instability that has intensified since the assassination last month of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, and a deepening humanitarian crisis, the Biden administration has shown no appetite for sending U.S. troops into Haiti. Failing that, ordinary Americans can lend a hand by giving to reputable nonprofit organizations with good track records. A number are listed and rated on sites such as Charity Navigator and GiveWell.https://e2f427b8574b02bdb449c3b4065416a1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
The suffering in Haiti invites donor fatigue; it should do the opposite. Haiti is not hopeless. Its 11 million citizens have been victimized serially by corrupt, callous and inept governments and are poorly supported by the international community. By most measures the hemisphere’s poorest country, it has a history deeply interwoven with the United States’ own. The U.S. government and Americans have helped in the past, notably with an outpouring of aid after the 2010 earthquake. They can — and should — do so again.