Second Earthquake Hits Haiti As International Relief Efforts Continue

“A strong earthquake struck Haiti on Wednesday morning, shaking buildings and sending screaming people running into the streets only eight days after the country’s capital was devastated by a previous quake,” the Canadian Press reports. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 6.1 magnitude quake was approximately 35 miles northwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince. “It was not immediately possible to ascertain what additional damage the new quake may have caused,” the news service writes (Faul, 1/20).

The tremor hit before the U.S. naval ship Comfort was expected to arrive in the country, CNN reports. “The Comfort is carrying nearly 550 doctors, nurses, corpsmen, technicians and support staff, who will be joined by 350 other medical staffers once the ship reaches Haiti, according to the U.S. Southern Command. The ship will have six operating rooms available and can house up to 1,000 patients,” CNN writes (1/20).

The U.S. military has started doing “airdrops over Haiti but is proceeding cautiously despite an enduring need for humanitarian relief” because of concerns over rioting, the Christian Science Monitor reports. “But backups at the sole airport forced the military to rethink its position, and Monday’s operation appeared to go smoothly, according to Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, deputy commander of the task force overseeing relief operations in Haiti,” according to the Christian Science Monitor (Lubold, 1/19).

On Tuesday, U.S. military helicopters landed at the National Palace, the New York Times reports in an article examining the U.S. role in delivering aid and some of the related political sensitivities. “Col. Gregory Kane of the United States Army told reporters … that the Haitian government remained in charge. He said that United States forces were on the ground only to assist with the relief efforts,” the newspaper writes (Lacey, 1/19). According to Reuters, U.S. troops worked to secure Port-au-Prince’s General Hospital, “where staff have been overwhelmed” by people who were injured in last week’s earthquake. The article outlines the international aid efforts in Haiti (Brown/Delva, 1/19).

In related coverage, the Associated Press/Washington Post examines USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s role in the U.S. response to the Haitian earthquake. The news service notes his “quick” transition and writes, “Shah has become the public face for the administration’s efforts in Haiti” (Pace, 1/20).

Also Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council “unanimously approved 3,500 extra troops and police officers to beef up security in Haiti and ensure that desperately needed aid gets to earthquake victims as the world body defended itself against criticism that millions still don’t have food or water,” the AP/New York Times reports. The U.N. has delivered food rations for almost 200,000 people, according to Ban Ki-Moon, the U.N. secretary-general. “It is a small percentage of the 3 million to 3.5 million the U.N. says have been affected. Ban said the U.N. goal is to increase the number of people receiving food to 1 million this week and at least 2 million in the following two weeks” (1/19).

The AP/ reports on the relief efforts, noting that despite the presence of U.S. troops, “[t]he world still can’t get enough food and water to hungry and thirsty survivors one week after an earthquake shattered Haiti’s capital. The airport remains a bottleneck, the port is a shambles. The government is invisible, nobody has taken firm charge, and the police have largely given up.” According to the newspaper, Haitians aren’t the only ones “questioning why aid has been so slow after one of the worst earthquakes in history … Officials in France and Brazil and aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders have complained of bottlenecks, skewed priorities and a crippling lack of leadership and coordination.” The article examines the factors slowing the aid process (Katz, 1/19).

“International aid workers and supplies have poured into Haiti in the last few days, but the country’s ruptured communications, poor roads, and chaos in the rubble-strewn capital have made it difficult to get help and information to the people, especially out in rural areas,” Reuters writes in an article also looking at the hold up in aid delivery (Bremer, 1/19).

In an interview with PBS’ NewsHour, Jon Andrus, the deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization, discusses the international response to the earthquake in Haiti and highlights some of the successes and failures so far (Ifill, 1/19). Also, the Wall Street Journal interviews John Homes, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, about the international aid effort (Lauria, 1/19).

In related news, the AP/New York Times examines how technology is aiding relief efforts. “Hundreds of tech volunteers spurred to action by Haiti’s killer quake are adding a new dimension to disaster relief, developing new tools and services for first responders and the public in an unprecedented effort,” according to the newspaper. “Volunteers have built and refined software for tracking missing people, mapping the disaster area and enabling urgent cell phone text messaging. Organizations including the International Red Cross, the United Nations, the World Bank and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency have put the systems to use.” The article describes the tools and elaborates on how some of them are used (1/19).

Several news outlets looked at the continuing health effects among earthquake survivors in the country. Summaries appear below.

  • USA Today examines the range of care that earthquake survivors can access. “For the thousands more survivors desperate for emergency care, the quality of treatment they get depends partly on luck — where they happen to go for care,” the newspaper writes. The article includes information about how different countries and organizations are treating patients (Michaels et al., 1/19).
  • According to the Washington Post, the situation for children is complicated. “In Port-au-Prince, clinics are starting to grapple with what to do with children they have treated who arrived unaccompanied by a parent. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, Tamar Hahn, said her agency was seeking to set up a facility for displaced children,” the Washington Post reports. The article notes other efforts to deal with displaced children (Sheridan , 1/19).
  • Some Haitians are trying to leave the capital in the hopes that it will be easier to find food and avoid possible violence, the AP/Washington Post reports. “Most of those fleeing said they were heading to small farms run by their relatives, pressed on by the specter of starvation because foreign aid has failed to reach much of the population,” the news service writes (de Montesquiou, 1/19).
  • The Wall Street Journal looks at how Haiti’s internationally-regarded hospital, operated by Partners in Health, is dealing with the situation. “It also has only 104 beds and an emergency room built for two. The staff here, many of whom lost friends and relatives themselves, has been working around the clock as refugees stream in from the city … it looks like a war hospital. … Medical supplies are thinning,” the newspaper writes (Dugan, 1/20).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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