By Anis Salvesen
Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. The capital, Port-au-Prince, population 2 million, was devastated. The presidential palace collapsed. The UN headquarters crumbled, killing at least 16, including the UN mission head, Hedi Annabi. Various ministry buildings, the cathedral, a luxury hotel – all were demolished.
A series of aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.5 and another of 5.9, rocked the country. Terrified Haitians slept outdoors for fear of being trapped in buildings brought down by further seismic activity. People trapped under rubble called out for help, as survivors tried to dig them out with their bare hands or with anything else they could find. Hospitals were overwhelmed by people needing treatment. All over Haiti, the atmosphere was – and continues to be – one of fear and uncertainty.
The people of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, a country that suffered 15 major calamities in the past decade, need our help. They urgently need basic relief services like medical attention, food and water. But they also need our help in the longer term – help rebuilding schools, roads, hospitals, their homes.