Saturday, January 08, 2005

Truth on Disaster Relief

I strongly recommend reading The Diplomad today. His January 8 post is yet another gritty look at disaster relief reality by one who is working too hard to be concerned about gilding the truth. A few quotes:

Yesterday the UN rep, who flew up to Aceh solely for the event, held a press conference at which he criticized the US airlift of supplies. The little S.O.B sniffed that it was "uncoordinated" and that some villages were fed twice while others were missed and that no "assessment teams" were being sent.... I learn from colleagues who were there, no journalist asked the little twit just how many people the UN had fed, and if, indeed, "assessment teams" are what is needed why haven't the gadzillion UN assessment teams hanging out in the capital moved into these remote villages?

UNHCR claims to have provided 20 thousand jerry cans for water, there's one problem with that claim: USAID provided the cans which are filled up on the USS Abraham Lincoln with pure water and flown to affected areas by USN Seahawk choppers....

Who ever said Mother Nature didn't have a black sense of humor? Let me tell you a true story about an Acehenese cow. She survived the earthquake and the tsunami. On January 5, as she was crossing the runway a B-737 bringing relief supplies hit and killed her. The 737? Crumpled undercarriage and damaged wing. Nobody human hurt. Runway operations shut down until (please play Flight of the Valkyries) a superb combined USAF/USN team came choppering in with the most amazing gadgets and moved the thing off the runway, restoring full operations in just a few hours.


Blogger MaxedOutMama said...


When I first encountered the Diplomad's blog, I thought his opinions on the UN were overly harsh. Reading his entries since December 26th did a lot to show me why he feels the way he does. The political posing of the UN's functionaries is not an uplifting experience.

9:12 PM, January 08, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

I've seen enough in the field to think that what he's saying has the ring of truth. Nothing he says about the visiting UN bureaucrats is a surprise. I thought some of the UN field organizations would have done better, but this may have been too much too fast for them. They really do insist on getting their quarters and creature arrangements in place first, and then doing their assessments, etc. USAID is far better at this sort of thing. They have a separate office, OFDA (U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance) to respond to these kinds of situations, and they're very good. They hit the ground running, usually arriving with the first planes in.

9:36 PM, January 08, 2005  

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