Haiti Report

There’s a fairly informative update on the situation in earthquake-struck Haiti now on the Handelsblatt site (although the piece is credited to the German press agency dpa). The headline-fact is indeed in the article’s headline: One million orphans in Haiti.

That one million figure is from a report from the EU Commission that was issued yesterday. Still, it’s also worthwhile here to go beyond the headline to look at the “fine print.” Haiti actually had around 386,000 orphans even before the quake struck last January 12, and the “one million” here also includes those who the authorities think have simply been separated from their parent(s) by events. And actually, the kidnapping of children for nefarious purposes (including being sold into slavery somewhere else) has long been a problem there; the chaos in the earthquake’s aftermath has only made it much worse.

On the bright side (and it’s a bright side that we need after that previous paragraph), UNICEF has announced that it is setting about immunizing 700,000 Haitian children against measles, diptheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Also, as you probably have already heard, around 100 top pop-artists of past and present have gotten together to record a new version of “We Are the World,” with proceeds to go to Haitian relief, and the resulting single will be unveiled on the occasion of the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening ceremonies on February 12. But you may not know – because you probably didn’t notice – how everything came together so quickly to get that single made. That project, under the direction of legendary producer Quincy Jones, has actually been months in planning – not because someone was particularly clairvoyant about the disaster about to come, but because it was originally intended as a fund-raiser to help Africa, just like the original one back in 1985.

Sorry, I’ve got to end up with some more bad news from the Handelsblatt/dpa article: A French geologist, working in the US at Purdue University, recently went on the airwaves of the Haitian broadcaster RFM to warn that “[n]obody should be lulled into a false security”: he says yet another quake hitting that region is likely in the near future, with a Richter-scale strength of up to 5.5.

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