Haiti: What can international aid accomplish?

After the earthquake in Haiti last weekend, the aid agency Unicef estimates that at least 15 million US dollars are needed to meet the most urgent needs of those affected. Since many localities can only be reached by air, aid deliveries are arriving very slowly. In the face of this disaster, Europe's press debates how sustainable international emergency aid is.

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Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Something could really be achieved here

Upsala Nya Tidning appeals for large-scale support for Haiti, arguing that it could help the entire region:

“There are signs that something can be achieved in Haiti with a fraction of the international effort that was expended in Afghanistan. Haiti is not a base for terrorism base and is of little interest from a geopolitical point of view. The country is simply poor and corrupt. An improvement in the situation in Haiti could have a ripple effect in the whole region.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Investments instead of donations

Haiti needs emergency aid now, but once the situation has stabilised, the aid workers must leave the country, NRC Handelsblad stresses:

“Well-intentioned aid worth billions does not offer a structural solution. After the last coup in 2004 and the earthquake in 2010, the country became an aid paradise under the direction of hundreds of NGOs and a UN mission which, incidentally, caused a cholera epidemic that resulted in 10,000 deaths. International aid further weakened Haiti's institutions and encouraged corruption. After these most recent natural disasters, emergency aid is, of course, necessary and needed. But later on, the country will need investments rather than donations and money-spending holidaymakers rather than volunteers.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The West is reaffirming its superiority complex

International aid is based on an outdated colonial ideology, writes the taz:

“While pictures show the Haitians rescuing each other and trying to bring the situation under control in neighbourly solidarity, an international aid machinery is being set in motion based on talk of the victims' purported helplessness. This way of thinking is built on prejudices: that there is nothing in the country that can contribute to the rescue operations. Wrapped up in aid, the old colonial ideology which disregards local capacities stands for an outdated mentality of superiority.”

The Economist (GB) /

Haiti's bad luck is its poverty

The lack of money is Haiti's biggest problem, The Economist concludes:

“Its emergency services and hospitals do not have enough capacity when a catastrophe strikes. Its airports are so tiny that they struggled to accept all the aid offered after the earthquake in 2010. On the global ranking for shortage of coping capacity, it comes ninth, behind countries such as Afghanistan and Syria, which are plagued by conflict. The most popular explanation for Haiti's bad luck is its poverty. It lacks the resources to recover from disasters or to protect against future ones.”