Saturday, January 16, 2010


I've been a bit of a media whore lately (following issues unrelated to this), so have only just had time this evening to read beyond the Sydney Morning Herald site to see what is happening now in Port au Prince. And Sydney Morning Herald shame on you! While papers all over the world are still headlining with this, you chose to feature a story about the intelligence of fish? For real reporting go to the Guardian online.

It's amazing to be able to read about what is happening right now as far as aid agencies go, with many organisations providing real time updates on what they are doing to help and what they need from us

The Médecins Sans Frontières medical teams in Port au Prince have been treating large numbers of people who come to them with fractures, head injuries and other major trauma from the quake, and are treating people in tents near the damaged buildings they used to work out of. The teams are still trying to confirm the whereabouts of all their Haitian staff and some of the patients who were in Médecins Sans Frontières' buildings when they were damaged by the earthquake.

If you want to donate money to MSF, make sure that your donation is unrestricted. MSF sensibly works out how much money they need to respond to a crisis, so if your donation is unrestricted, and they have enough funds to do their thing in Haiti, the money can be put to good use elsewhere.

Here's what they say:

Our immediate response in the first hours following the disaster in Haiti was only possible because of private unrestricted donations from around the world received before the earthquake struck. We are currently reinforcing our teams on the ground in order to respond to the immediate medical needs and to assess the humanitarian needs that MSF will be addressing in the months ahead.We are now asking our donors to give unrestricted funding, or to our Emergency Relief Fund. These types of funds ensure that our medical teams can react to the Haiti emergency and humanitarian crises all over the world, particularly neglected crises that remain outside the media spotlight.

This is an important point, because if your money is earmarked for a particular crisis, and is not needed - it kind of just sits there. According to Reuters after the tsunami for all its best efforts, the Red Cross has still only spent 83% of its $3.21 billion tsunami budget — which means that it has over half a billion dollars left to spend. If that money was not earmarked specifically for the tsunami relief and had been donated without restriction that money could have been spent in Haiti.

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