Our attention is rightly directed to rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings.
Sending aid to Haiti isn’t the only thing we can do to help the country. We can also help Haitians help themselves. The US could grant Haitians in the United States Temporary Protected Status (TPS). It’s a kind of temporary immigration relief offered to countries that have suffered severe disasters. TPS lets nationals of the disaster-hit country apply for work authorization, allows them to travel outside the US, and prevents them from deportation.
Haiti has justifiably been taking up alot of energy and focus of the United Nations over the last two days. But it is worth noting that there has been a long scheduled meeting of entrepreneurs and investors concerned about climate change at the UN today.
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.
CNN deserves plaudits for its relentless Haiti coverage. Sanjay Gupta just interviewed President Rene Preval at the airport in Port Au Prince. The president seemed completely dazed--and it is not hard to see why. Preval himself said he hasn't slept since last night--and has no idea where he'll spend then night. Like most other buildings, his palace has been destroyed.
Once you’ve survived the earthquake, what happens? Haitians now face a daunting set of health challenges, including typhoid, dengue fever, malaria, and getting treatment for serious injuries.
On a conference call with Medicines sans Frontiere moments ago, a representative in Haiti said that all of the hospitals to which it would normally refer patients have either collapsed or are otherwise unusable. All MSF can do at the moment is administer first aid. There are no "referral" options for secondary care beyond first aid, but MSF is exploring options to deploy a "floating hospital" to Haiti.
A UN Dispatch reader and close UN observor summarizes some of the initial reactions from the UN and the UN's role in Haiti at the moment.