This is coming a bit late. Last week, I was looking at sattelite images of Haiti, spying on the situation in my own little way.
First of all, the images from Google Earth showed that the port and airport were cleaned up and clear. If you remember, the port had been damaged and was full of containers and the airport was reported to be too congested to allow for orderly delivery of supplies to the disaster victims. This was cited as an excuse for why victims were not provied with food and water until one week after the earthquake. For the record, images from the 21st of January show that the port and airport are clear and more importantly, they show that there is not much going on there. Here is the port.
And here is the airport:
When I looked at images of the city of Port-au-Prince, I found that it appears the locals are being herded into tent cities, where you can see some blue UN tents. From what I could tell, in most part of the city, there are no locals on the streets, but the place is asolutely crawling with soldiers, walking mostly in single file, guns drawn. One can even see that some of them are wearing blue UN helmets. I didn’t see any evidence of the soldiers being in the process of handing out supplies or clearing away wreckage. I am not saying that they are supposed to be doing these things- but I was under the impression that that was at least in part what they were there for. All I could see was many, many soldiers out on patrol. I couldn’t help thinking that from these pictures it does look like Haiti is under some kind of military occupation. Why do they need to have so many soldiers just walking aorund w ith their guns out as if they were stalking an ennemy? One would think that just a few would be needed to keep people out of dangerous areas and maintain order. Delivering relief supplies should, in and of itself, prevent people from turning on each othe and ‘looting’ in desperate attempts to survive.
I am no expert on the delivery of humanitarian aid, but in my humble opinion it really does look like the troops are treating it like a warzone more than anything.