Middle East Aid Springs Into Action to Help the Human Environment in Haiti

Tuesday night’s horrific 7+ magnitude earthquake in Port au Prince Haiti, has all but devastated this island nation, said to be the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

This catastrophe,  which many seismologists say may dwarf the 2008 earthquake in China (which killed more than 100,000) may even wind up being one of the worst in recorded history with possibly as many as half a million souls lost to the quake’s massive destruction, and many thousands more succumbing to disease, hunger, and thirst.

The latest death toll was 50,000 but thousands more are expected buried under the rubble. The effects to the urban environment, and social ecosystem there, are devastating to say the least.

Earthquakes are common in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, the Far East and Southern  Asia, and in many of the world’s oceans. After all, it was a massive undersea earthquake off the western coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra that resulted in the massive tsunami tidal wave the killed more than 250,000 people in 2004.

And more close to home, the 1999 earthquake in Izmit Turkey resulted in more than 17,000 known deaths, causing widespread devastation. And like this earthquake and the recent ones in Iran and China, the exact death toll will never be known as literally thousands are buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and will never be found.

We bloggers at Green Prophet usually dedicate our efforts writing about positive news: advances in clean technology,  regional environmental issues, and such. But events like the one in Haiti makes us inclined to pause and reflect on how these sudden natural calamities not only cause widespread grief and sorrow, but also bring people together in what can be referred as their finest hour, to rescue those trapped, provide food and medical aid for the sick and injured survivors.

So far, we learn Israel, Turkey and Lebanon, are three Middle East countries to pledge aid. Also the UAE is setting up an “Air Bridge” to take relief supplies to Haiti. 

When these sad events occur, there are countries which are ready and willing to send aid to help alleviate the suffering of those most affected by an earthquake or other form of disaster, including a massive car bombing or other act of terrorism. One of these countries in the Middle East, Israel, became involved in this type of action following a massive car bombing of a military police station in southern Lebanon in 1982.

This attack, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 border policemen and soldiers caused the building they were sleeping in to literally collapse. The resulting death toll might have been much less had properly trained rescue teams been available to find and extract people from the rubble.

As a result of this tragedy, the Israeli IDF created a special disaster rescue unit that through the years has not only seen action in aiding Israeli victims of disasters, but also many others as well. This rescue team has seen action in place like the US Embassy in Nairobi Kenya, which was the victim of a terrorist bombing, earthquakes and terror attacks  in Mexico and other parts of Central and South America and of course the earthquake in Turkey.

Israeli aid and medical teams were also call into action in Thailand and Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami there, when they set up a field hospital and also to help to find and identify victims of the tragedy, many of whom were decomposed  beyond recognition.

With this new disaster in Haiti now upon us, Israeli rescue and aid units have already been mobilized, including two plane loads of aid workers (about 220 people) and badly needed supplies. This aid comes from IsraAID and the government with the sheer idea of offering aid to their fellow human beings. And like other tragic events that these aid and rescue teams have been involved in, the Israeli delegation will undoubtedly do their part of help alleviate the suffering of many unfortunate victims.

One well known Israeli humanitarian, Abie Nathan, was an outstanding example of an Israeli who have everything he had to come to the aid of the victims of such disasters – no matter who or where they happened to be. And in this case, it is interesting, as well as sad to note that Nathan’s own daughter is now said  be among the missing in the Haitian tragedy.

Turkey, newspaper reports indicate, are also sending — bout 52 policemen from their forces are being flown to Haiti. Yesterday Lebanon pledged aid, too, but we’re yet to see concrete action and news coming from there.

From the UAE: the Red Crescent Authority (RCA) has given orders to airlift humanitarian aid to Republic of Haiti. It will include support from the Khalifa Charity Foundation, the Zayed Foundation for Humanitarian and Charitable Works, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Foundation (MBRCF).

For a short period of time at least, it’s heart-warming to see all kinds of people from around the world come together to render aid and comfort of those who are victims of such tragic events, and political and sectarian differences are cast aside.

You can donate money now, through a number of online sites.

Here is a link to the American Red Cross, for example.

Photo via www.mfa.gov.il

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