Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Three such field hospitals (one with even more capacity) are now operating from dawn to dusk in Port au Prince and outskirts (as well as half a dozen mobile health units providing additional health care services for more than a thousand people a day). This is a video that I really like, I hope you do to. Its a good news story among the horror that Haiti has had to suffer. The video was shot by my friend and colleague from Norwegian Red Cross (who also has one of the greatest names on the planet) Olaf Saltbones.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I am just back from Haiti and was replaced by fellow-Head Down Eyes Opener Joe Lowry. In time, when I get a chance to catch a breath, I will write up some reflections on this incredible experience and devastating disaster. I did manage to tweet frequently and, if interested, you can find my feed here. In the meantime, please enjoy a story Joe has sent about a young orphan whose plight affected both of us.
He was barely able to sit, wiping crumbs off the little cardboard mat that had become his home. He cleared a space to sleep, like his mother would have done, his eyes rolled back in his head, and he slumped into a daze.
Joe came from nowhere. Someone noticed him lying naked on the ground and he was brought to the Norwegian Red Cross field hospital in the centre of Haiti’s shattered capital.
Mageli St Simon, a Haitian National Red Cross Society psychological support volunteer, started taking care of him. “His head was injured,” she says. “And he was sick, maybe malaria, maybe typhoid.”
Mageli started to interact with the sick child and, after a day or so, she’d got his name. She gave him a pen and paper, and he drew his mother and father.
Then she gave him a toy phone.
“He started speaking to his mother. I asked him what she was saying. He told me: ‘She says don’t look for me, I’m dead’.
"I don’t know how he knew, someone must have told him before he got lost.”
Three days on, Joe’s doing well. He's still sick, but is taking water and a little food. He draws us a cross. I tell him my name is Joe too, and he gives me a long, deep look.
He’s a beautiful, fragile little boy, with a slight squint that makes him look even more vulnerable; makes you want to protect him.
Mageli agrees. “You have to really know yourself before you know other people,” she says. “That’s why I take care of Joe, to know what he needs. I can’t give people any money, but I can help in my own way.”
If Joe has no family members who can take on the responsibility of caring for him, the little boy will go to an orphanage as soon as a suitable organization working with orphans can be found. And he’ll do fine. He’s a survivor.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I began this job in August 2008 and the first major disaster I was involved in was the horrendous suffering caused by the Hurricane season in 2008 which repeatedly battered Haiti and sparked off several fatal landslides. Four major hurricanes - Gustave, Fay, Hanna and Ike - cruelly emptied their cargo ontop of the population, stripping away 98% of the top soil and the rampaging waters killed more than one thousand people.
For this to happen in any country would set it back a generation but to happen in Haiti, the most impoverished and under developed country in the world - well this was simply cruel and disproportionate. Almost impossible to get back up on your feet again. But Haitians are resilient people and arise they did though understandably still haunted by hurricanes. And now, to fall victim to a devastating earthquake is the cruellest of blows to this struggling nation (interesting that we don't name earthquakes - surely they are worthy of such acknowledgement?).
From an operational point of view our local partners, the Haitian Red Cross, have been hit hard - buildings (where we also have our offices) damaged and personnel still missing. Nevertheless, their first instinct was to clear the rubble and set up an operational centre to tend to the wounded with emergency first aid and reinforce the search and rescue operation with their 2000 or so trained volunteers. Focus was also placed in parallel on getting operational, assessing the situation and coordinating the 'surge' capacity needed to boost water, shelter, food and medical activities.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
There are many known unknowns surrounding the threat toYemen’s sovereignty and the security of its powerful Saudi neighbors. The hand of Iran is also present and the physical, religious and cultural links with anarchic and conflict-ridden Somalia are obviously reasons for concern. Yemen therefore finds itself in the unenviable position of being a common denominator for many of the key strategic issues and headaches that inform Washington’s view of the Middle East and the “war on terror”.
Protecting the House of Saud and American Foreign Policy
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
This is a slightly abridged version of a web report from the ICRC issued on the one year anniversary of the Israeli military operation in Gaza. See also, the photo study, the Outlook looks bleak - all photos (except for the crusted boats) in this post taken from the 'Outlook' Gallery.