Monday, January 18, 2010

Mini Doomsday in Haiti

The recent earthquake in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, and its suburbs has shaken the entire world to its roots. The scenes of rampant devastation and destruction caused by the earthquake are so saddening that they disturb the heart of every human being. The destruction caused by the earthquake there is said to be the worst ever during the last two decades, and going by the ever increasing number of dead bodies, it is said to be the second most destructive in human history.
It may be recalled that 8.6 million people had died in an earthquake that shook a part of China in 1556. Though the correct number of deaths in Haiti is yet to be known, an estimated half million people might have been killed. More than three million people are estimated to have been affected. These include those who have been severely injured, and those who have lost everything they had. They, literally, are living by roadsides. Since the communication system has collapsed, it is creating impediment to relief operations.
There are people buried under rubble who are crying for help but even after 60 hours, no help could reach them. Helplessness is written large on the faces of those who survived, and are forced to spend nights under open sky. Most of them sleep on heaps of dead bodies or near them.

Lawlessness and Anarchy
Most part of the country is affected by lawlessness and anarchy. Economically, Haiti is a poor country. Under the circumstances, the devastating and horrendous earthquake is no less than a mini doomsday. At the same time, it poses a huge challenge to the world of providing relief to those affected by the quake in Haiti. The basic infrastructure in the country, particularly of its capital, has been totally ruined. Hospitals have collapsed and there is no place to treat injured people. The power system has also collapsed and consequently, the country is in pitch darkness. Difficulties are being faced in reaching relief material from abroad. It is, therefore, the bounden duty of the United Nations and the international community that not only they initiate measures to provide relief to people affected in Haiti but also to help the country to stand on its own legs. Also, there is need of paying attention to its reconstruction and development, which may have a lasting impact on the country.
The international community should consider measures to avoid and protect against similar devastation in other parts of the world. Today, with all achievements of human endeavor, what could be the reason that we have failed in preventing loss of life and property caused by earthquakes or could not even lessen devastation and ruin caused by them.

Constitution of Crisis Management Group
India, in particular, needs to be more cautious in this regard, as 60 percent of its area is in the earthquake zone. Several major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata fall within this zone. It is the government's responsibility to pay greater attention to the issue, and formulate policies that may minimize the possible threat.
The government has already constituted a Crisis Management Group, but taking a lesson from the Haiti devastation and the havoc played by the quake there, we need to be extra cautious and initiate additional measures. It is a matter of satisfaction that India has decided to provide relief material worth $1 million to Haiti. It is further heartening that Indian soldiers posted there under the peacekeeping force are taking part in providing relief at this hour of need in Haiti.

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