Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who Is Ready to Help Haiti?

Out of curiosity, I did a quick scan around the Internet this morning to see which countries have offered or begun supplying aid and assistance to Haiti following yesterday's devastating earthquake. To be consistent in my unscientific search, I simply searched for the website of the ministry of foreign affairs of a number of countries and looked to see if there was a statement about Haiti. If not, I searched for "Haiti" (presuming that the site offered a search function). So, as of 1:00pm, the day following the earthquake, here are the nations that have offered aid or begun supplying assistance:
United States
United Kingdom
Canada
Israel (see Israeli search and rescue delegation departs to Haiti)
The United Nations also has a page devoted the Haiti and notes that Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has called for international assitance.

The websites of the foreign ministries of the following nations do not mention the earthquake or any aid or support:
France
Venezuela
Cuba
Bahamas
Jamaica
Dominical Republic
Russia
Japan
China
India
Egypt
Saudi Arabia
Bahrain
Qatar
Iran
After that, I got bored.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Perhaps nothing; perhaps some countries just don't update their websites that often (though most appear to...). And perhaps these countries have made formal statements that haven't been reflected on their websites. Who knows.

I don't find it particularly interesting that the US has offered aid. I do find it interesting that France, the former colonial power in Haiti, hasn't said anything yet. Also, somewhat surprising is the silence of both Venezuela and Cuba, both of whom always seem to be trying to position themselves as important actors in the region. You'd think that they'd be rushing to get aid to Haiti faster than the US, just to show that they could. Furthermore, note that neither Japan (which has extensive experience with earthquake recovery) or China (which suffered a devastating quake of its own last year) appears to have offered help.

On the the other hand, Israel has already dispatched aid even though it does not have bilateral relations with Haiti. In other words, those "evil" Israelis, living half a world away, have been able to dispatch aid before many of the "great powers" or regional actors. Maybe things that like this should at least be noted when the world tries to throw Israel under the proverbial bus. Ah, but alas, I suspect that most people will view this as some kind of cynical ploy by Israel rather than a sign of true concern. Of course, Israel also offered aid to Iran following in earthquake there (which was rejected) and did provide aid following earthquakes in China, India, and Turkey as well as aid following the Indiana Ocean tsunami. But evidence that Israel is truly concerned with the situation of Haitians (or Iranians or Chinese or any others who are victims of a natural disaster) wouldn't square so well with the narrative of the evil, apartheid, Nazi, organ-stealing Jews propounded by much of the world.

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