In order to stave off a bigger disaster and get Haiti on its feet again, the world needs to respond in rapid and coordinated fashion.
The focus first must be on search and rescue, and on meeting people's basic human needs.
We need to get as much equipment as we can into Haiti. The military is sending in helicopters, and there will probably be a need for it to supply some logistics and communications support.
The U.S. is going to have to carry a lot of the load there early on. But it's very important that the U.S., which is so pivotal to this emergency period, work very closely with the U.N. peacekeeping mission stationed in Haiti, which is very well organized and is operating well.
The U.N. system has already swung into action: it has offered $10 million in immediate emergency relief and organized food relief through the World Food Programme. There are hundreds of thousands of people that are going to be coming out of there alive that have to be cared for; the World Health Organization is trying to meet the health care needs.
Bill Clinton: How to Help Haiti
Hillary and I first went to Haiti for the first time in December 1975. A banker friend of ours had some business down there. He had built up a lot of frequent-flyer miles and called and said he was giving us a delayed honeymoon. We were married in October, and we went down there in December. Both of us just kind of fell in love with the country, and I have kept up with it ever since.
Why is Haiti so special to me? Haiti is completely unique in our hemisphere because of its history and culture. There are other French Caribbean islands, but none of them have Haiti's particular Creole influence. None of them feature Haiti's distinctive mix of West African religious and cultural influences, the most visible of which is the persistence of the voodoo faith, which is practiced alongside Christianity. Unfortunately, ever since the first slave revolt by Haitians in 1791, the country has been beset by abuses caused from within and without. It has never been able to fulfill its potential as a nation.
Clinton: Haiti Needs World's Help to Survive Quake Crisis
Haiti isn't doomed. Let's not forget, the damage from the earthquake is largely concentrated in the Port-au-Prince area. That has meant a tragic loss of life, but it also means there are opportunities to rebuild in other parts of the island. So all the development projects, the agriculture, the reforestation, the tourism, the airport that needs to be built in the northern part of Haiti — everything else should stay on schedule.
Then we should simply redouble our efforts once the emergency passes to do the right sort of construction in Port-au-Prince and use it to continue to build back better.
You can make also donation by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (for Spanish).
Red Cross Information: National Headquarters 2025 E Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20006 www.redcross.org - click on their Donate Now Button.