Thursday, 21 January 2010

Haiti's pain felt around the world

A man comforts Desie Ulachine, 7, at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, January 18, 2010. The pace of food and medical aid deliveries picked up in earthquake-shattered Haiti, providing some hope to desperate survivors, but doctors worried disease would be the next big challenge for the tens of thousands left injured and homeless a week ago. Picture taken January 18, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters)

via CAAI News Media


By Zheng Anguang

BEIJING, Jan. 20 -- The disastrous earthquake in Haiti one week ago has brought untold suffering to this Caribbean island nation, which has already witnessed too many tragedies and is in urgent need of calm.

According to the latest reports, more than 70,000 corpses have already been buried - it is estimated that the death toll will exceed 100,000, with 3 million in total affected by the disaster. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital and where the most damage was done, survivors are not only suffering from a shortage of food and shelter, but are also threatened by mobs and burglars in the state of anarchy. President Ren Prval said the country was like a war zone; residents said the smell of death filled the streets.

In a nation that has suffered many similar disasters, Chinese people did not hesitate in sending aid groups and taking measures to save lives. Neither did the whole world, which shares the pain of Haiti in this critical time: More than dozens of rescue teams have already arrived in Haiti. More aid workers and resources are reportedly on the way. The United States even sent an aircraft carrier to support the relief efforts. For the common purpose of sending aid to Haitians in need, Cuba has allowed the US air force to pass through its air space, an impossibility for many years.

International organizations have also played key roles in rescue efforts. The United Nations, which has also suffered much in the earthquake with many of its workers buried in ruins, has ordered numerous branches to send first-aid equipment. Workers from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization are giving aid and offering security forces, despite the fact that many of them are also victims of the earthquake.

NGOs have also performed admirably. The International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, the Mercy Corps, the International Rescue Committee and Doctors Without Borders all arrived on the scene as early as possible. In fact, for many years they have always been working in this war-torn island, devoting love and care to Haitians. As public welfare organizations, they are often more efficient and convenient in such efforts and most likely getting better relief results.

The world is flat, but not fair. Distribution of wealth, power and resources has never been equal among nations, striking some of them with misfortune and poverty. As a nation that has long been troubled by political instability and economic depression, Haiti deserves our special care. In fact, ever since 2004, Haiti has always been in need of help, owing much of its progress to the selfless devotion of many international organizations and independent nations. At this critical time, aid work in Haiti demands participation of all its neighbors, near or far.

The international society should take up more responsibility in relief efforts in Haiti. It is reported that some parts of the nation have already fallen into a state of anarchy; therefore the international society should help to manage the chaos if necessary.

There are successful examples. In 1992, in order to return peace and stability to a war-torn land and relieve the suffering, the United Nations set up a Transitional Authority in Cambodia. More than 20,000 peacekeeping workers participated in social work there, from domestic elections to providing security. More than 100,000 additional workers from various NGOs also joined in the efforts. It is fair to say that international cooperation and help are an important reason for the present prosperity and stability of Cambodia.

In this epoch of globalization, happiness and suffering are shared by all around the globe. No nation should be isolated from the family of humankind. In order to make a harmonious world, no countries should "beggar their neighbors" and they should follow the motto "Live and Let Live" as the basis of their policies. Universal peace might still be a dream far from reality, but to do more work for the common good should be the shared creed of all accountable powers. US President Barack Obama said to the Haitian president recently: "The entire world stands with the government and the people of Haiti, for in Haiti's devastation, we all see the common humanity that we share." May the world be united in this great humanitarian work.

The author is an associate professor at the School of International Studies of Nanjing University.

(Source: China Daily)

Editor: Wang Guanqun


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