How to Carry Out the Duty to Assist in Haiti

I won’t spend much time justifying the duty to assist now, except to link to Ramsey Clark’s essay “Haiti’s Agonies and Exaltations,” but I do want to talk about the kinds of assistance we can offer:

  1. Personal: in the short term, we can all text “HAITI” to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross. I also recommend Oxfam America and Doctors Without Borders.
  2. Domestic: We can petition our governments to grant Haitian immigrants Temporary Protected Status. Let them help themselves by working and remitting money to their relatives. To support Temporary Protected Status in the US, contact the White House here. You’ll need to select “I have a policy comment”, and “Immigration” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Fiscal: Cancel Haiti’s debt. It was largely symbolic, anyway.
  4. Institutional: Haiti had one of the worst and most dysfunctional governments in the western hemisphere. Now, that government has largely ceased to exist. Before the earthquake, half of the government’s revenue came from foreign development assistance.  Now, that number will be 100%. “For the next few years, we will effectively hold government power there, whether we want to or not….” The question we should be asking ourselves is, what’s the responsible thing to do with such control? Let’s try to do better than we did in 1915, 1934, 1947, 1980, 1986, and 2004.

One thought on “How to Carry Out the Duty to Assist in Haiti”

  1. Great piece. Also worth noting are the lessons learned from past fund-raising attempts: Jan 19, 2010 6:33 PMGetting humanitarian relief rightfrom Aid Watch by Laura Freschi

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    The extent of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, the incapacity of the already weak Haitian government, and the degraded state of infrastructure throughout the country resist comparison to any disaster before this one. But post-recovery evaluations from the Asian tsunami, the Bam earthquake and other disasters suggest which practices allow relief efforts to work effectively and which result in waste and delays.

    My piece on Forbes.com puts the response to Haiti’s earthquake in the context of previous disaster relief efforts. Read it here.

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