“Only God is in charge”

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“Only God is in charge”. AIDG/Flikr, 15 January 2010

Jasmine Pierre and 10 members of her family have been camped out in a park since Tuesday. She has not seen any food deliveries, spotted rescue workers or noticed any signs of international relief. “Nobody is coming,” she said. “I think only God is in charge. The government should be here, any government. There is no government in the palace right now. I don’t even really know if Haiti has a government today.”

U.S. Southern Command in Miami reported Friday afternoon that some aid was finally trickling into the ravaged city of 2 million. But the 22-year-old’s feelings of frustration were shared by many aid workers, relief agencies and medics, who say that three full days after an earthquake devastated this nation it is still not clear who is in charge of relief efforts. Nobody had seen any.

No single federal government office building is still standing, and officials are looking for a proper headquarters from which to organize relief operations, first lady Elizabeth Préval said. Some Haitian leaders lost their lives. Others lost family or property, leaving a grief-stricken leadership awaiting an international community that Friday was still mobilizing to fill the void. “The government seems to be just waiting for help,” said Gregory Gue, a Jacmel doctor who came to Port-au-Prince to volunteer for the Red Cross and was aghast at the conditions he encountered. “People die waiting for help. I am angry. Angry, but everyone is also very sad. It is clear the government had no emergency plan.” Gue was providing aid Friday to the injured, including a woman who needed an emergency C-section to remove her dead 8-month-old fetus. He was working out of a muddy parking lot.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, however, defended the pace of progress. “The international community reacted quite quickly in view of the circumstances and the scale of the hit,” he said. “Everyone is still today in the streets — and that includes the government. Because three-quarters of the government buildings are destroyed, that doesn’t mean the government isn’t doing its work.” Moreover, starting a day after the quake, Bellerive said, the remnants of the government held morning coordination meetings with U.N. representatives, foreign ambassadors and international agencies. (Miami Herald)

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