Tag Archives: Earthquake

Rescue

Haiti Aid, Bank Bonuses; Debt

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, US giving to the people of Haiti has outpaced that following the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Contributions continue to pour in for relief efforts in Haiti. Nine days after the massive earthquake struck, donors have contributed more than $355-million to 35 American nonprofit groups that are providing aid to people in Haiti, a Chronicle tally finds.

The pace of giving for Haiti is running ahead of the amount donated in the same period after the Asian tsunami in 2004, but slower than the outpouring of gifts after the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the eight days after the flooding started in New Orleans, Americans gave at least $580-million for relief efforts. In the nine days after the Asian tsunamis, major U.S. relief groups raised $163-million.

This is heartening news.

But I wanted to consider these figures side by side with another big story at the moment: bank bonuses.

Here are a couple of recent articles –

US investment bank Goldman Sachs is expected to reveal a pay and bonus pot of $20bn (£12.3bn) for 2009 tomorrow, reigniting the row over City pay and taking the total amount being paid out by Wall Street financiers to more than $65bn. The Guardian

Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley has set aside $14.4bn (£8.8bn) to pay its employees after returning to profitability last year, amounting to an average payout of $235,000 to each of its staff members.The Guardian

It’s pretty striking isn’t it?

The financial sector’s bonus system has been widely blamed for helping precipitate a global financial crisis, leading to staggering payouts by taxpayers to keep the system afloat. Now the same institutions are paying their employees record breaking bonuses, in multiple billions.

At the same time, a short hop from Miami, an entire country is on its knees, millions are destitute, and US generosity has reached $355 million.

I don’t want to downplay the very real generosity of the many who have donated, and I realise that the comparison is misleading. But still – money is money, people are people, and there is something profoundly wrong with such blatant, staggering inequality.

Nothing new here, I suppose. Western governments are already looking for ways to reign in the excess.

But coincidences of timing, juxtapositions, can help us consider the human condition in a new light, and help us craft better ways of doing things. At the very least, I do hope some of these bonus recipients spare a thought – and a few dollars – for their fellow human beings just across the water. After all, it might make them feel a little better about themselves.

UPDATE In response to these musings, my friend Andrew Clark, a Guardian writer, passed on this interesting link from the US Chamber of Commerce. It lists individual donations given by corporations, which have now topped $100m. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs each gave $1million.

……..

Calls are growing for the cancellation of Haiti’s debt.

The ONE campaign has set up a petition site here. It had reached 138,000 as of writing.

Dear Finance Ministers, IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and bilateral creditors, As Haiti rebuilds from this disaster, please work to secure the immediate cancellation of Haiti’s $1 billion debt and ensure that any emergency earthquake assistance is provided in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans.

Also, this from the Jubilee debt campaign:

Donations are flooding in to Haiti after the devastating earthquake that struck on 12 January. But every day money is still flowing out of the country, to repay Haiti’s remaining debts.

After the earthquake which has left an estimated 200,000 dead, Jubilee Debt Campaign is calling for urgent cancellation of Haiti’s debt as the country attempts to recover from this disaster.

In June 2009, thanks to the efforts of Jubilee supporters, two thirds ($1.2 billion) of Haitian debt was cancelled. However as the deal only included debts accrued up to 2004, loans drawn since that time have been adding to national debt. As the UN launches an appeal for more than $550 million in aid, Haiti has $891 million debt remaining on its books.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has offered Haiti a $100 million LOAN in response to the disaster, with unacceptable conditions attached.

More lost friends; photos of the fallen

Another awful day of bad news.

The full extent of the losses to our community is finally hitting home, as hope disappears.

This morning we learned of the death of the wonderful, vivacious Alexandra Duguay, whose house we visited only a couple of weeks ago. Also at that house party was Andrew Wyllie and family. Andrew survived, but we have learned his family did not.

I am left staring at this photograph, taken of Alexandra, Andrew’s boys and my own son Dorian, after Alexandra had pinned up a flamboyant new road sign to Impasse Tulipe, where she had just moved. (Many roads in PAP remained unmarked or badly signposted; so like Alexandra to take the initiative and simply make one). Everyone pitched in. Only Dorian remains, through sheer random chance.

Happier days

Dorian in his own way is quite aware of what happened. He keeps asking how we can save the people, how we can build Haiti again and make it strong. He started crying at the prospect of no longer being able to play with some of the friends he met.

We also heard of the loss of Andrew Grene this morning. On the same day that Anna and I visited Alexandra, we had gone to Andrew’s house for a wonderful lunch – which was briefly attended by Hedi Annabi, also fallen. Andrew showered our children with presents, a terrifically sweet gesture.

The weekend before we left, we had brunch at home with Emily Sanson-Rejouis, Emmanuel and their three beautiful daughters, Kofie-Jade, Zenzie and Alyahna. The children were so sweet together, scampering around the patio. We were looking forward to many more play dates; and I was excited to get to know Emmanuel better. He was in a similar position to me; a UN spouse (though formerly a UN employee himself), looking to make the most of our time in Haiti. I wanted to help on a philanthropic project he was working on to provide low cost t-shirts to NGOs. We were planning to play tennis.

Only Emily and Alyahna still live. Another family was at that brunch too, but I haven’t enough details to know their full story yet, so don’t want to write anything. UPDATE: Tragically, we have heard that Cleiton also died, leaving behind him his wife Irene and his son Jannick. I would like to write more about him; he was a lovely guy, UN Security, former Brazilian police, who I chatting with for a long time on New Year’s Eve.

And then I think of Christmas and New Year, which we spent at the home of Patrick Hein – who miraculously was pulled out of the rubble – and Cecilia Corneo, whose whereabouts are still not known. And many others at that party.

It’s devastating. Everyone we met, every party we attended, everyone we had a meal with or invited over has either perished, or lost someone very close. And there is so much we still don’t know; the situation of the wonderful Haitians – Finante, Denise, Benson, others, whom I wrote about in my pre-quake posts – who worked with us, how they are coping at this awful time. I hope I can get back soon.

2 in 3 US adults have given, or intend to give, to Haiti – Zogby; Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti

At certain moments, the American tradition of private philanthropy shines. Even in our personal case – a universe away from the most needy – members of the Miami Beach community have rallied round, offering things for our children to do, a place to stay, Sunday lunch, advice and support. It has been deeply helpful as the UN itself struggles to pick up the pieces.

A Zogby Interactive poll released today found that two-thirds of US adults plan to give to Haiti relief. Even if the eventual reality does not quite match up, it is a remarkable figure.

UTICA, NY – On the day when the nation celebrates the sprit and service of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a new Zogby Interactive survey finds two-thirds of U.S. adults (64%) have given or plan to give to relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti. Thirty-three percent have already made a donation and another 31% plan on doing so.

That result is part of a Zogby Interactive survey of 2,003 U.S. adults conducted from January 15-18. The poll has a margin of error of +/-2.2%, with larger margins for sub-groups.

Eighty-one percent of African-Americans have donated or plan to, including 47% who have already done so. Among whites, 61% will give, including 32% who have already given.

Meanwhile, questions surrounding Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti charity have continued. Hopefully some good will come of the scrutiny. I have no inside information about Yele, and am reluctant to make judgements on an organisation that has done so much to raise awareness, but I do know that Haiti – as many poor countries and aid recipients – was awash with fake or questionable charities, ‘briefcase NGOs’, even before the disaster. There is huge potential for well intentioned donations to go astray.

Aid is an exacting discipline, a profession that requires training and expertise, and if this story raises awareness about the need to give wisely it will be helpful. Here is some advice from the US Better Business Bureau.

Here are some recent press stories on the Yele Haiti issue:

CNN report on Yele

Charity Navigator
ABC news
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
The Smoking Gun

Luxury holiday cruise ships still dock in northern Haiti? Wow.

I wanted to share this tale of what, at first sight, looks like remarkable bad taste on the part of Royal Caribbean, reported in the UK’s Guardian newspaper – but which, on further reflection, may be the right thing to do.

Sixty miles from Haiti’s devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock..

I touched on the curious issue of Labadie – renamed Labadee TM – in this (pre-quake) post about the Haiti few Haitians will ever see.

It’s a difficult one. Even at the best of times, the thought that western tourists are living it up in a walled-off Xanadu while Haitians struggle in abject poverty is uncomfortable – although not unusual in the developing world.

Labadee, in better times

On the other hand, tourism is likely to play a crucial role in Haiti’s long-term future, as a source of investment and income, and right now the island can use every dollar it can get. Only a few weeks ago, the world’s largest cruise ship – Oasis of the Seas – started its maiden voyage there; seen as an important display of confidence in Haiti’s tourism potential, and pointing to a possibly brighter future. Perhaps one should stomach the sickening contrast; it is better the ships dock than abandon one of Haiti’s few viable industries.

Still. Ugh. Right now? The whole affair feels deeply distasteful.

Further reports from Fox News, The Guardian’s comment page, New York Daily News.

PS. I found these youtube videos about Labadee, uploaded by kidkut1 on Jan 14:

US grants temporary protected status to Haitians; but what kind of welcome would refugees receive? Mariel Memories

The New York Times reported this on Friday –

The Obama administration extended a special immigration status on Friday to Haitians living illegally in the United States that protects them from deportation for 18 months and allows them to work here.

Calling the aftermath of the earthquake “a disaster of historic proportions,” the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, said she was granting the designation, known as temporary protected status, for Haitian immigrants because their safety would be at risk if they were deported.

Administration officials said the special status would cover at least 100,000 Haitians believed to be living in the United States illegally, as well as about 30,000 Haitians who had been ordered deported. Haitians who receive the temporary status will be able to obtain documents allowing them to live here and work legally.

This was a humane decision. I have been wondering however, how much longer US sympathy for Haitians will last if large numbers of new refugees begin to arrive on these shores.

So far, Americans have responded generously, but from our limited conversations with residents in Miami (where Anna and I are currently waiting for our next move) we have detected a growing sense of concern at what may lie down the road. People have evoked memories of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift of Cubans, which led to camps being set up around the city.

Some very kind parents who offered us lunch today said they were hearing mutterings of a less than sympathetic nature. Another resident specifically noted that many houses around a nearby park still had security bars from the Mariel days, which brought with it an influx of former Cuban criminals. (An issue immortalised in the early scenes of Scarface).

Any refugee crisis is difficult, for both refugees and host communities, but destitute Haitians might have particularly little capacity to adapt. Let us hope the world manages to set up an aid operation of sufficient quality that such a migration need not take place.

Meanwhile, this is a new update of the US response:

United States Government Haiti Earthquake Disaster Response Update

On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck the nation of Haiti, causing catastrophic damage inside and around the capital city of Port-au-Prince. President Obama has promised the people of Haiti that “you will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.” The United States Government has mobilized resources and manpower to aid in the relief effort. Below please find some key facts and examples of government actions to date.

All numbers below are accurate as of noon Sunday, January 17, 2010

AIRPORTS AND AIRSPACE

*     The airfield is open for 24/7 operations and has a 100-aircraft

per day capacity, this is an increase from yesterday’s 60 aircraft per day capacity.

*     The airport has received more than 600 short tons of supplies.

*     USAF air traffic control and airfield management personnel

continue to manage air operations at the airport with approval of the Government of Haiti.

*     There are 30 military helicopters providing relief to the people

of Haiti.

*     These helicopters are operating out of nine landing zones,

including five drop-off points.

SAFETY

*     Approximately 5,800 military personnel on the ground or afloat.

*     Approximately 7,500 additional military personnel are expected

to arrive by 1/18.

*     More than 1,000 personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division

arrived in Haiti on 1/16.

HEALTH

*     More than 250 HHS medical personnel have arrived in Haiti. 

*     2 planeloads of medicine, medical equipment and supplies from

HHS have arrived in Haiti with a third expected to arrive today.

*     3,840 hygiene kits taken from USAID stockpiles in Miami have

arrived.

*     The USNS Comfort is currently underway and expected to arrive on

1/20 with 600 medical personal on board.

EVACUATION AND RESCUES

*     As of 0900 a total of 1,760 American citizens have been

airlifted out of Haiti.

*     USAID/DART reported that a U.S. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)

team had rescued an additional three individuals at the Caribbean Market.

*     As of 0900, US USAR teams have rescued 26 individuals. 

*     There are currently six US USAR teams operating in Haiti along

with 21 international USAR teams from around the world.  US teams are based out of Fairfax VA, Los Angeles CA, Miami FL (two teams), New York NY and Virginia Beach VA.

*     Each USAR team includes approximately 70 team members.

FOOD AND WATER

*     U.S. military aircraft have airlifted 130,000 humanitarian daily

rations and more than 70,000 bottles of water to Port-au-Prince.

*     Three water purification units are operational and can supply

180,000 liters per day.

*     USS Carl Vinson continues to provide potable water production.

*     U.S. military aircraft will continue to support the delivery of

an additional 600,000 daily rations over the next several days.

*     Six additional water purification units are scheduled to arrive

in the coming days from USAID stockpiles in Dubai. Each unit provides 1000,000 liters of safe drinking water serving 10,000 people per day. 

*     12,000 water containers have arrived from Miami.

*     Yesterday, the U.N. World Food Program distributed high-energy

biscuits to a total of 50,000 people.

*     The World Food Program Port-au-Prince metropolitan areas

schools feeding program is no serving hot meals to 50,000 affected people

How to Help Support Relief Efforts

*     Contribute online through ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.

*     Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a  $10 donation to the Clinton

Bush Haiti Fund (the donation will be added to your cell phone bill).

*     Find more ways to help through the Center for International

Disaster Information.

Get Information about Friends or Family

The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti:

1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department.  Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time.

More names of the UN’s fallen are announced; Digicel

Another grim day, and the official list of fallen UN friends is growing.

A recent list posted on one of the many Facebook support groups included some of Anna’s closest colleagues.

Mr. Guido Galli, Political Affairs Officer, (Italy)
Mr. Karimou Ide, Security Officer, (Netherlands)
Ms. Andrea Loi Valenzuela, Human Rights Officer, (Chile)
Ms. Lisa Mblel-Mbong, Human Rights Officer, (United States of America)
Mr. Frederick Wooldridge, Political Affairs Officer (United Kingdom)
Mr. Guillaume Simieski, Political Affairs Officer, (Canada)

….

By now everyone is aware of the huge amount of work being put in by search and rescue teams, medical staff, other humanitarian workers. Our deep thanks go out to those who continued to dig for survivors – even today we had news of people being saved.

But I also wanted to give a brief mention to the cellphone network Digicel, which is unlikely to receive many public accolades. Over the past three years this mobile phone company has revolutionised communications in Haiti, making cheap telephony available and affordable to millions. The impact has been significant.

After the earthquake, communications were one of the greatest challenges. But Digicel – according to this announcement – now appears to have brought the situation under control. The importance of having working communications over the coming days and weeks cannot be overstated.

Good for Digicel.

January 17th 2010 – DIGICEL UPDATE ON SITUATION IN HAITI

The Digicel network is now functioning well in Port-au-Prince with more and more customers connecting to it and being able to make and receive calls, text messages, email and BlackBerry Messenger messages.

With coverage in the rest of the country good, Digicel is also ensuring that all of its two million plus customers in Haiti can stay in contact with friends and family by giving each and every Digicel customer US$5 of free call credit – totalling US$10 million.

Since deploying a team of technicians to Haiti following the earthquake on Tuesday, January 12th, Digicel has been working to restore its network in Haiti to full capacity.

A full assessment of the network has been carried out and the situation is as follows:

– All of Digicel’s three switch sites which serve the country are operational. One is damaged but an interim solution has been put in place until new equipment arrives
– 70% of the network’s cell sites are on air. We are working on restoring service to the remaining 30%
– Roaming is fully operational
– There is still some congestion on the network when making and receiving international calls
– An assessment of what network equipment is required has been completed and new equipment has been ordered and is en route to Haiti
– More teams of technicians have been assembled and are en route to support the existing teams on the ground

As well as the US$5 million which is being donated to NGOs by Digicel directly, Digicel has set up the Digicel Haiti Relief Fund. By Friday evening – just two days after it went live – a massive US$300,000 was donated by Digicel customers across our 32 markets worldwide.

In addition to previous aid drops over the last five days, Digicel has assembled a 110,000lb cargo of medical supplies, food and water ready to go to Haiti from Jamaica.

Digicel would like to thank people across the world for their contributions and to encourage them to keep giving to help the people of Haiti at this difficult time.

ADD Journalist Jason Maloney told me: “Not just the company but its employees: I met a Jamaican Digicel worker who had come up to Saint Marc to buy basic medical supplies after 36 hours of digging people out of the ground by hand, and all he wanted to do was get back to it.”

Confirmation of the death of the UN’s Haiti leadership – Hedi Annabi, Luiz Carlos da Costa and Doug Coates

This (below) from the United Nations Secretary General today. Losing its civilian leadership is an enormous blow to the mission and the UN system as a whole. Amid Haiti’s unimaginable pain, the United Nations’ own tragedy is already on the level of the traumatic 2003 Baghdad bombing; it seems there will be many more names to relate before the crisis is over. Of those UN officials that survived, many have left the country. The mission will need to rebuild its staff from the ground up.

This will be a huge undertaking. Haiti is on its knees; absolutely dependent upon international assistance. The long-term implications are potentially staggering; millions may need to be fed and sheltered for weeks and months to come, with almost no domestic capacity to do so.

A $562 million appeal launched this week “is intended to assist an estimated 3 million affected people over a period of six months, with half of the funds being earmarked for emergency food aid, with the rest targeted at health, water, sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, emergency education and other key needs.” Depending on how the situation develops, it seems possible the UN’s mandate in Haiti will need to be revisited, potentially expanded. Assuming the country’s weak government has been affected as much as the rest of the country, the UN may be facing one of the most challenging tasks in its 65 year history.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

Statement of confirmation of death of Special Representative of the
Secretary-General in Haiti, Hédi Annabi,
Principal Deputy Special Representative, Luiz Carlos da Costa,
and Acting UN Police Commissioner in Haiti, Doug Coates

I am deeply saddened to confirm the tragic death of my Special
Representative to Haiti, Hédi Annabi. His Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa
and the Acting Police Commissioner, Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police, are also confirmed to have perished.

In every sense of the word, they gave their lives for peace.

Hédi Annabi, a Tunisian national, was a true citizen of the world. The
United Nations was his life and he ranked amongst its most dedicated and
committed sons. He was passionate about its mission and its people. He
gave of himself fully — with energy, discipline and great bravery. From
his start as a desk officer for Cambodia to his involvement in literally
every peacekeeping operation the UN launched for over a decade, he was
the gold standard of service against which all who had the privilege to
work with him were measured.

An icon of UN peacekeeping, there was no better representative of the
international civil service. A mild man with the heart of a lion, he is
remembered by those who knew him for his dry sense of humour, his
integrity and his unparalleled work ethic—he was the first in and the
last out every day for his entire career.

He was proud of the UN mission in Haiti — proud of its accomplishments
in bringing stability and hope to Haiti’s people, proud of his UN staff.

Luiz Carlos da Costa, from Brazil, was for many, many years a legend of
UN peacekeeping operations. His extraordinary professionalism and
dedication were matched only by his charisma and warmth, and his
devotion to his many friends.
Over decades, he brought many of the finest and most talented staff to
the United Nations. He was a mentor to generations of UN staff. He knew
them; he knew their families; and his heart was always open to hear
their story and to help them. His legacy lives in the thousands that
serve under the blue flag in every corner of the globe.

Doug Coates was a long-serving member of the international law
enforcement community. He was a true friend of Haiti and the United
Nations. He was a great police officer who believed to his core in the
importance of rule of law and justice.

Our hearts are with them, the families and friends of Hédi, Luiz, Doug
and the many other UN heroes who gave their lives for Haiti and for the
highest ideals of the United Nations. Their dearest wish, I am sure,
would be that we carry forward the noble work that they and their
colleagues performed so well.

Denial of Reports of UN Ordering Medical Personnel to Leave Haiti Field Hospital

This from UN Dispatch. I thought I should link this, it as I mentioned these reports in my security blog yesterday.

In response to troubling reports that the UN ordered doctors to leave a field hospital in Haiti (including a front page feature on CNN.com), here’s an official statement Dispatch just received:

“We have seen the disturbing reports about the UN ordering medical personnel to leave a field hospital in Port au Prince. We have checked with the United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and they have confirmed that at no time did they order any medical team to leave their work sites in PaP. If any medical personnel evacuated it was at the request of their own organization. The doctors have returned to the hospital this morning. MINUSTAH will brief the press at 11h00.”

The threat of violence; being cut off from home

As hope dwindles for many Haitians, increasing numbers of reports are discussing the potential for violence.

Port-au-Prince has show resilience so far, but as aid remains blocked in warehouses and the situation grows more desperate, an ugly fight for survival seems a genuine possibility.

Local and international authorities had, in the first days, downplayed the security issue, stressing the capital remained calm. But the question is growing more urgent: how much longer can Haiti’s fragile society, which is no stranger to violence, hold together? The 1998 food crisis let to major riots.

How would even the strongest societies behave after days of limited or no access to food, water and shelter – where the only immediate hope of relief may lie in breaking into buildings to take it, stealing from your fellow survivors – let alone one with no effective state structures? The situation may, in turn, become increasingly difficult for international aid workers, leading to less assistance, and even more desperation: a vicious circle.

Even before the earthquake, feelings towards internationals, the UN, ranged from support to resentment. With so much aid unable to get through, it may now resurface. Pre-disaster, there had been a rise in violence over the holiday period (shooting by men on motorbikes); and political tension was growing as elections approached.

As the initial shock story subsides, many news agencies have begun to air these concerns. CNN reports of increasing worries that the peace may not last; and that medical staff have had to leave a makeshift hospital for fear of insecurity.

The BBC has shown images of young men roaming the streets with machetes. UPDATE: It is now leading on the issue of security fears.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper reports “the sounds of gunfire echoed around Port au Prince as looters fought over scarce food supplies, hijacked vehilces and raided a UN warehouse where 15,000 tons of food had been stockpiled.”

Reuters reports: “gangs of robbers had begun preying on survivors living in makeshift camps on streets strewn with debris and decomposing bodies, as aftershocks rippled through the hilly neighborhoods. Authorities reported some looting and growing anger among survivors despairing over the delay in life-saving assistance. Meanwhile, the United States and other nations rushed to deliver food, water and medical supplies through a jammed airport, a smashed seaport and roads littered with rubble.”

The New York Times says that looting of houses and shops increased Friday, and anger boiled over in unpredictable ways: residents near the city’s overfilled main cemetery stoned a group of ambulance workers seeking to drop off more bodies.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reportedly said it had to stop aid distribution on Thursday at the prime minister’s compound because of security concerns.

The Canadian press reports here that the US is considering the possibility for a greater security role if the situation deteriorates.

On a personal level, this makes the prospect of any imminent return – with our young children anyway – even less likely. Especially as we read of Haitians doing their best to leave, in case things turn bad. It is an troubling prospect, as we had just moved our whole life to Haiti; all our possessions, our jobs, our children. Haiti was our home. Despite many kind offers of assistance – including one today in Miami, from someone we never met before – I feel adrift, in nowhere land, on the sidelines. I want to go home, but I am not sure when, or how.

Does this make us refugees? Well, not in any official sense, I would suspect. We have family, friends, community roots in Europe and the US; we were in Haiti as internationals. But in another sense perhaps we are, albeit temporarily and from a position of privilege. We are displaced, without any of the familiar, comforting possessions that we use to mark our territory; no place we can call our own. It is a small concern amid a much larger tragedy, nothing in comparison with what millions of Haitians are facing, but it still feels deeply unsettling.

As to the potential for violence, the press does sometimes dramatise such situations, as it seeks an evolution in the narrative, but it would seem unwise to dismiss these warnings as fear-mongering. Common sense suggests darker times yet may be in store for Haiti’s people before the crisis plateaus.

The coming days will test the international community’s response to the utmost. One can only hope our leaders are up to the challenge; and that Haitians will find the strength to prove such fears unfounded.