Haiti earthquake: Friday's latest news
Quick links: Twitter feeds from relief groups on the ground; updating list of ways to help relief efforts; tweet us or e-mail tips to Liz Heron and Garance Franke-Ruta; submit photos from Haiti. For coverage from Thursday and Wednesday, click on the links, or click here for full coverage of the crisis.
7:43 p.m. Post reporter tells of dire situation in Port-au-Prince
The Washington Post's Manuel Roig-Franzia reports from Haiti's earthquake-ravaged capital and describes an increasingly desperate scene as little in the way of food, water and medical assistance is reaching hard-hit areas of Port-au-Prince. (Photos by Nikki Kahn and Carol Guzy / The Washington Post; Credit: Manuel Roig-Franzia / Edited by Jason Aldag)
7:09 p.m. Clinton and Bush to appear on "Meet the Press Sunday"
Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have been booked as guests on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday to discuss relief efforts and the crisis in Haiti. Also scheduled to appear are USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, who is expected to arrive in Haiti on Saturday, and Lt. Gen Ken Keen, Military Deputy Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, who is already on the ground there.
7:05 p.m.: Federal departments can solicit employees for relief donations
Federal agencies can ask their employees for a one-time cash or check donation to Haiti earthquake relief efforts, under guidelines announced on Friday.
The Office of Personnel Management said that government workers could make the donation separate from the annual Combined Federal Campaign.
OPM Director John Berry noted that the U.S. Agency for International Development has urged Americans to make cash donations instead of donating supplies.
-- Ed O'Keefe
6:30 p.m. Free calls to Haiti from Google Voice
Google on Friday announced it making free calls to Haiti available through its Google Voice technology for the next two weeks.
"It's impossible to watch the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake without wondering how one can contribute in helping the thousands of families who lost everything in this disaster," the Google Voice team wrote on its blog. "Google set up a disaster relief page, which includes information and resources for anyone interested in helping out, and the Google Voice team also wanted to respond in our own way."
Click here to find out how to use the technology.
5:42 p.m. State Department releases person-finder tool
The State Department on Friday made a move toward becoming a centralized hub for information-sharing about missing persons in Haiti, launching a new tool on its Web site called the "Person Finder". The tool can also be embedded on websites and blogs through share code, creating the potential for its widespread adoption online. The code is being made available by the Google Crisis Response team.
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5:22 p.m. Government extends temporary asylum to illegal Haitian immigrants -- updated 5:33 p.m.
The Obama administration announced Friday that it will allow an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally to stay and work in the country for 18 months as part of its response to Tuesday's earthquake, but warned Haitians that leaving the country now "will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation."
Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the decision to grant Temporary Protected Status to illegal immigrants from Haiti who were living in the United States as of January 12 was a gesture of compassion and an attempt to ensure that the flow of remittances and economic support to their devastated homeland continue.
"This is a disaster of historic proportions," Napolitano said in a 5 p.m. conference call, "Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be ended by returning to Haiti as part of this administration continue effort to support Haiti's recovery."
However, Napolitano coupled that message with a caution to Haitians now seeking refuge outside their country. While she declined to specify the consequences for those caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally, she said, "At this moment of tragedy in Haiti, it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere, but attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation."
-- Spencer S. Hsu
5:20 p.m. General: World has an 'opportunity' in Haiti
Description: A top U.S. General says the world needs to step up as one in the response to the disaster in Haiti. He says troops are still focusing on search and rescue. (The Associated Press)
5:16 p.m. Seeking the missing online
After the Sept. 11 attacks, the "Missing" posters that blanketed lower Manhattan as loved ones sought information on the vanished were one of the most poignant and wrenching manifestations of the loss and fear families were experiencing. Now the New York Times is collecting similar photos and information about people who are missing in Haiti, in a kind of virtual, interactive version of the Xeroxed missing posters of 2001.
5:03 p.m. Mail deliveries to Haiti suspended
The U.S. Postal Service has temporarily suspended mail deliveries to Haiti amid the suspension of normal flights to the country, officials announced Friday.
Mail addressed to Haiti will still be accepted and held until transportation arrangements become available, the Postal Service said.
4:56 p.m. Hillary Clinton, USAID chief Shah to travel to Haiti
CNN is reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Haiti Saturday with USAID director Rajiv Shah.
4:50 p.m. Another view of the earthquake as it happened emerges
In this silent video released by the U.S. State Department, a security camera on the northwest wall of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince captured Tuesday's earthquake. This is the second video to emerge of the quake happening; both come from State Department security cameras. (State Department)
4:10 p.m. Haitian ambassador to U.S. looks for "silver lining"
Raymond Joseph, the Haitian Ambassador to the United States, said on Friday that he has worried for many years that his country was particularly vulnerable to a major natural disaster and that there could be a "silver lining" to the earthquake's massive devastation if Haiti developed new laws to prevent people from living in buildings and areas that put them in harm's way.
Saying that he wrote a column in 1994 called, "Port-au-Prince is a catastrophe waiting to happen," Joseph said there are certain places in Haiti where people should never have been allowed to build their homes. "I am really sad that this prophecy just happened like this. I thought it was going to be a hurricane that would hit us, but this is far worse."
"But we are not going to repeat the same mistakes and allow people to build anywhere helter skelter -- no! "Joseph continued in the interview. "This has given us a chance to put some order in Port-au-Prince.... No one should use any authority to put a block together or to make any house in Port-au-Prince unless the government authorizes it, that is what going to happen. The silver lining in what is happening here is that it is going to give the government the chance to centralize Port-au-Prince."
Despite the devastation, Joseph said that the Haitian people are very strong: "We have been hit hard in the past by other disasters and we have always come back. Don't forget that the Haitian people are the ones who were slaves and they rose up from slavery, defeated their masters and helped everyone else. I believe that the Haitian people will come back very strong because we have one motto: In unity there is strength and I am so glad that all of the groups have put aside their political rivalry and have come together."
--Hamil R. Harris
3:47 p.m. The Smoking Gun raises questions about Wyclef Jean's Yele group
Web sleuths at the The Smoking Gun are raising questions about the finances of musician Wyclef Jean's charitable organization, the Yéle Haiti Foundation, which has been the recipient of a viral text-messaging donation campaign this week.
On Thursday, The Smoking Gun concluded that Internal Revenue Service records show the Wyclef Jean Foundation, Inc. -- which does business as Yéle Haiti Foundation -- "has a lackluster history of accounting for its finances" and that it is not clear where money donated to the foundation has gone in recent years.
Tax returns show the group paid $31,200 in rent to Platinum Sound, a Manhattan recording studio, in 2006 and again in 2007, The Smoking Gun reported. Tax returns also showed expenses nearing $225,000 in 2006 for "promotion and PR costs," according to the site.
A copy of the group's 2006 tax return posted by The Smoking Gun show the Foundation paid Platinum Sound, Inc., $100,000 for "the musical performance services of Wyclef Jean at a benefit concert." Jean and Jerry Duplessis -- identified by The Smoking Gun as a Foundation board member -- own the recording studio, according to the group's 2006 tax return.
The 2006 tax return also says "the Foundation pre-purchased $250,000 of TV airtime and production services from Telemax, S.A.," a for-profit company in Haiti. Jean and Duplessis own a controlling interest in Telemax, according to the tax return. The fees paid to Telemax, according to the return, were "paid below market and the services are part of the outreach efforts conducted by the Foundation in Haiti. Use of Telemax is the most efficient way of providing these services."
Jean has encouraged people to donate money by texting "YELE" to 501501 to help victims of the recent Haitian earthquake, which devastated the nation's capital this week. His message has been widely distributed online and by tweet.
2:54 p.m. Streets full of bodies in Haiti
WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO. The Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's cataclysmic earthquake and on Friday the streets were full of bodies. (Jan. 15, The Associated Press)
2:43 p.m. D.C. area benefits for Haiti planned
Area stores, restaurants, clubs and other organizations are hosting benefits for Haiti. Here's a sampling:
Metromix and the Shadow Room will host an earthquake relief party on Friday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. All proceeds will go to the American Red Cross' efforts in Haiti.
Busboys & Poets, 2120 14th St. N.W., will hold a Haiti Relief open mic night on Sunday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.
The Embassy of Haiti, at 2311 Massachusetts Avenue NW, will hold a survival kit drive on Sunday, Jan. 17, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Officials are asking for items such as baby wipes, formula and diapers, hand sanitizer, blankets, batteries and flashlights.
D.C. area rappers Wale, Tabi Bonney, D.C. Don Juan and others will perform at the 9:30 Club, 815 V. Street NW on Monday, Jan. 18, to raise money for Haiti relief efforts. Doors open at 6 p.m.
The Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW, will also hold a benefit for the victims of the earthquake on Feb. 6 at 9 p.m.
Whole Foods at 1440 P Street in NW is taking donations at the register for Americares.
Giant Food of Landover, beginning Saturday, Jan. 16 and continuing through Jan. 31, will collect donations in all stores and corporate offices on behalf of the American Red Cross International Response Fund.
If there are other events, fundraisers or benefits for victims of the earthquake, please e-mail PostNow@washpost.com.
2:22 p.m. Mayor Fenty pledges help to Haitian quake victims
The D.C. government is poised to send 100 firefighters and a K-9 search unit as well as several tons of supplies to Haiti, Mayor Adrian Fenty announced this morning at a press conference with the Hatian Ambassador.
Fenty, our colleague Hamil Harris reports, said mental health counselors also are standing by to help people local residents who may be having difficulty coping with the images they're seeing on television. Read the rest of his report here.
2:11 p.m. Shah: Meeting basic needs is job one
Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, told reporters at the State Department that "our first and foremost goal is to meet basic needs: food, water, shelter, blankets, tarps." He said however that within the next few days, aid organizations will stretched to their limits, and so the department is now trying to think "out of the box" to expand their reach to all those affected by the disaster.
Shah said an aircraft carrier will provide 600,000 humanitarian daily rations, and another $48 million in food assistance will be available for the estimated 2 million affected individuals, enough to last several months. The department is also working with the World Food Program to expand local milling capabilities so that Haiti "has the food it needs now and in the near future."
He said AID is now readying an estimated 100,000 ten-liter containers for potable water, and that one-fifth of these will arrive today by airlift. "We have four major water purification systems identified" for deployment by ship in Haiti soon, and six more that may be brought to Haiti later from elsewhere in the world, he said.
"People have already been receiving, you know, a series of relief items from the United States. This is going to expand that capacity dramatically. And today people will start receiving many of these items as we get these things into Haiti," Shah said.
Asked about the effectiveness of the search and rescue efforts so far, Shah said, " I don't want to create high expectations that these teams can go out there and be wildly successful very rapidly. These people are taking tremendous risks, this is very difficult work -- they work around the clock. But the situation there and it is really tragic and it's very, very difficult."
Asked about reports of growing lawlessness, State Department counselor and chief of staff Cheryl Mills said that the administration supports the U.N. security effort, now under the command of a Brazilian, and that "all of our folks, military and civilian, are there for humanitarian and disaster assistance relief operations," rather than to enforce order. But she added that "ruling in or ruling out anything beyond the disaster assistance or relief would be premature, because I think we have no assessment of the overarching frame."
--R. Jeffrey Smith
1:54 p.m. Ochocinco, Johnson to race for Haiti
Our colleagues on the The League, a blog about the NFL, report that Chad Ochocinco and Chris Johnson have come up with a novel way to "rally" support for the earthquake-ravaged nation of Haiti. The outspoken Bengals wideout has challenged Johnson -- the 2009 offensive player of the year -- to a footrace, the terms of which will be discussed this evening in Antigua. But, according to a Tweet Ochocinco sent to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter, the "loser is giving there [sic] pro bowl check to those in need in Haiti." As you might imagine, both players seem fairly confident in their speed. Read the rest here.
1:35 p.m. Obama will bring Clinton, Bush to White House to discuss crisis
President Obama said Friday that he will host former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the White House for a discussion about how the two ex-leaders can help coordinate worldwide relief efforts for Haiti.
Obama announced the Saturday meeting in remarks to the press. He also related his earlier conversation with Haiti President René Préval. Obama said Préval was emotional in his thanks for American help.
"He said that he has been extremely touched by the friendship and generosity of the American people," Obama related. "He said, 'From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people of Haiti, thank you, thank you, thank you.' "
Obama's decision to tap Bush and Clinton for relief efforts mirrors a similar decision by Bush to call on his father and Clinton for relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Indonesia.
"Food is scarce. So is water," Obama said, bluntly. But he added that rescue teams are at work digging people out of the rubble in Port-au-Prince. And he said that aid is pouring into the airport, ready to be distributed. Read the president's full remarks on the 44: Politics and Policy blog.
1:30 p.m. A brief history of Haiti's tragic past
The Duvaliers, the Aristide crises, the 2004 floods, riots last year and now the earthquake -- Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating traces 50 years of heartache in this seemingly star-crossed Caribbean nation, accompanied by a photo gallery.
1:00 p.m. USAID says 24 search-and-rescue teams are looking for survivors
Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, reported that 24 urban search-and-rescue teams are now working in Haiti, including four from the United States, each staffed with 70 to 80 personnel.
Shah said the U.S. disaster assistance team in Haiti is presently doubling in size, and tapping into new satellite imagery. Its primary aim, he said, is to put "commodities" into the hands of nonprofits that can deliver needed services.
Cheryl Mills, counselor and chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, emphasized that department officials will be working with the United Nations and the Haitian government to help rebuild the country's agriculture, energy, health, and justice sectors in a way that ensures their "long-term viability and sustainability." .
-- R. Jeffrey Smith
12:46 p.m. Aid for Haiti discussion
Stacy Palmer, founder and editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, chatted online with washingtonpost.com users about the best ways to contribute to the relief effort in Haiti. Here are some of the highlights:
Washington, D.C.: Any idea how much money has been donated by individuals for Haiti so far?
Stacy Palmer: More than $68-million has been donated by Americans so far. By comparison, in the first three days after the tsunamis, just $30-million had been raised.
Stacy Palmer: Just to give you more perspective on how much has been given by text message, in the first 36 hours, text donations exceeded $7-million.
Stacy Palmer: My colleagues Nicole Wallace and Caroline Preston note that in 2008, the Red Cross raised just $200,000 all year for relief by text message. By comparison, since the Haiti earthquake, it has raised $5.6-million. This is indeed a sign that charities are doing a much better job of promoting this type of solicitation -- and what is important is that so many supporters are sending messages to friends, relatives and colleagues. All those links and tweets are adding up to a lot of money.
Washington, D.C.: How long do you think the recovery of Haiti will take?
Stacy Palmer: As my colleague Ian Wilhelm points out, we just passed the five-year anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunamis and a lot of rebuilding and recovery work is still under way. Many of the recovery donations from the US and elsewhere are making a huge difference today for the tsunami victims. We can expect the Haitian effort to take far longer, given how much need the country had before the earthquake.
12:40 p.m. Mullen: Up to 10,000 troops in Haiti by Monday
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that 9,000 to 10,000 U.S. troops will have arrived in Haiti on Monday, but only a fraction will be operating on the ground.
"The bulk of them will be on ships," he said, mostly in the vicinity of the harbor at Port au Prince, said Adm. Mike Mullen.
About 1,000 U.S. military personnel were operating onshore as of midday Friday, he said.
Mullen said the number of U.S. forces could rise further but that defense officials were still determining how they could help further with relief efforts. A naval hospital ship, the Comfort, is scheduled to arrive in Haiti later next week from Baltimore.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who spoke to reporters with Mullen at the Pentagon, said the military was rushing to deliver food and water supplies "as quickly as possible, so that people don't -- in their desperation -- turn to violence or lead to the security situation deteriorating."
Other than some reports of scavenging and minor looting, Gates said, "the security situation is pretty good" at the moment.
12:19 p.m. Internet, mobile networks struggling to restore service; major undersea cable damaged in quake
Haiti's only underwater cable system connecting the island of Hispaniola to other nations was disrupted by the earthquake, according to the research firm Telegeography. Bahamas Telecommunications Company told the research firm Thursday that they were assessing the extent of the damange and couldn't say how long it would take to restore service.
But serving communications systems has been difficult. Phone networks have been operating with limited success but overwhelmed by the number of calls getting place in and out of the country, Telegeography said.
One firm, Jamaica-based Digicel, has tried to send technicians to solve the problem by adding capacity to their network, so more calls can be placed. But technicians have been unable to get on Haiti, and their plane was turned back because of the traffic jam at Port-au-Prince airport, according to the research firm.
The underwater cable system is jointly owned by Haitian communications systems operator Telco, and the fiber-optic link connects Port-au-Prince to Matthew Town, Great Inagua Island, in the Bahamas.
Much of the communications infrastructure in Haiti, however, is done through satellite connections. "The easiest and faster way now will be through satellite telecommunications. Later, fiber optic will be okay. But for temporary urgent communication: satellite, microwave, cellular phones," said Manuel Cereijo, a professor of computer science at the University of Miami.
The companies who own those networks are trying to add capacity so that more calls can get through.
"Physical repairs to networks will be very difficult amongst the devastation in the Haitian capital," Telegeography said.
The aid organization Telecom Without Borders is trying to set up a site in Port-au-Prince where people can make free, two-minute international or domestic phone calls via satellite. It will also offer broadband services to relief workers from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.
-- Cecilla Kang
The underwater cable system is jointly lowned by Haitian communications systems operator Telco and the fiber-optic link connects Port-au-Prince to Matthew Town, Great Inagua Island in the Bahamas. Much of the communications infrastructure in Haiti, however, is done through satellite connections. The telephone networks, run by Digicel Haiti, Comcel, Telco and Haitel are operating but suffering from congestion on their networks. The companies are trying to get more capacity on their networks so that more calls can get through, but .
"Physical repairs to networks will be very difficult amongst the devastation in the Haitian capital," the research organization said.
Aid organization Telecom Without Borders is trying to set up a site in Port-au-Prince where people can make free, two-minute international or domestic phone calls via satellite. It will also offer broadband services to relief workers from the United Nations and non-governmental organisations.
12:13 p.m. Lugar calls for giving illegal Haitian immigrants temporary legal status
N.C. Aizenman reports that Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is pushing for temporary legal status and work permits for as many as 125,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally:
The decision to grant such status rests with the Obama administration. The secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of state, is authorized to offer "temporary protected status" to illegal immigrants of a particular nationality if a national disaster in their home country makes it dangerous for them to be sent back.
Lugar, a prominent Republican whose foreign policy credentials are widely respected in Congress, said in a statement, "It is in the foreign policy interest of the United States and a humanitarian imperative of the highest order to have all people of Haitian descent in a position to contribute towards the recovery of this island nation."
12:01 p.m. Ban Ki-Moon: We need rescue equipment, tents, medical personnel
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon just updated reporters on the operation in Haiti situation. Here's an unofficial transcript:
I'd like to make three brief points.
Preliminary estimates from our UN emergency teams show widespread damage to infrastructure in Port au-Prince and other affected areas, with as many as 50 percent of buildings in the worst-hit areas damaged or destroyed.
A high proportion of the 3 million people in the capital area are without access to food, water, shelter and electricity.
We are still in the search and rescue phase, and we are trying to save as many lives as possible.
A major humanitarian effort is now well underway. Although it is inevitably slower and more difficult than any of us would wish, we are mobilizing all resources as fast as we possibly can.
A UN operations center has been established at the Port au-Prince airport, staffed by members of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team, and is now coordinating the search and rescue efforts of 27 teams that have arrived from countries around the world.
Aid flights arrived through the night and will continue through the day.
Search and rescue remains a monumental effort. Heavy lifting equipment is still urgently needed.
Distribution of food and medical supplies has begun in Port au-Prince, supplemented increasingly by the aid beginning to arrive from the outside.
Logistics are extremely difficult. The airport is open, as you know, but capacity is limited. A lack of transport and fuel is also hampering efforts. Many roads remain blocked.
That said, the international community's response has been generous and robust, and we are gearing up rapidly and effectively despite the challenging circumstances.
This afternoon the UN will launch an emergency flash appeal for around $550 million. Most of this money will go to urgent needs: food and water are in critically short supply.
Given the number of people in the streets, without homes, we must provide shelter ---- we need tents, and more tents.
We urgently need medical supplies and, even more, emergency medical personnel.
The World Food Program began operations yesterday and right now is feeding around 8,000 people several times a day. Obviously, that is only a drop in the bucket in the face of the massive need, but the agency will be scaling up to feed approximately 1 million people within 15 days and 2 million people within a month.
Right now, we are establishing 15 food distribution centers in Port au-Prince. Provisions will be basic: high-energy biscuits and ready-to-eat meals that require no preparation.
Second, casualty figures.
We cannot do more than guess at the total dead and injured. You have seen the various estimates. There is no point in my speculating further.
I expect a fuller report from the mission shortly, and we will update you at that time. My Spokesperson will get back to you later.
I will meet with our Haitian staff today and plan to meet all Headquarters staff very soon, next week.
Third, my Acting Special Representative, Edmond Mulet, met with President [René] Préval and the Prime Minister of Haiti upon his arrival yesterday and has assumed full control over the mission.
I am also dispatching Assistant Secretary General Tony Banbury, in our office of field operations...
Lastly, let me say once again to the people of [Haiti]:
[in French and English] We are with you. I ask your patience and salute your fortitude and courage in these terrible circumstances.
11:48 a.m. Christian rock group Jars of Clay takes on Pat Robertson
The Grammy-winning Christian rock group talks with Sally Quinn on the problem of extremists speaking for Christianity. The impulse to find blame in a crisis, lead singer Dan Haseltine says is "just a means to find an excuse to not get involved." Watch the video.
11:42 a.m. Redskins reach out to Haiti
Washington, D.C.'s football team is using the private plane of owner Daniel Snyder to help fly medical supplies, personnel and clothing to the impoverished nation, Jason Reid reports on the Redskins Insider.
"We're not a relief organization, but there are times when our resources allow us to step in and make a difference, if only a small one," Snyder said in a statement released by the team.
11:29 a.m. Raw video: U.S. troops arrive in Haiti
10:55 a.m. Video: Michelle Obama calls on Americans to help, saying, "We can all do something"
10:24 a.m. Video: Rescue operations continued through night
10:14 a.m. Satellite view of Port-au-Prince after the earthquake
GeoEye has a satellite image, taken Wednesday at 10:27 a.m., that you can zoom into for a sense of the extent of the damage. Tent cities can be seen in a football field and elsewhere. Even if their homes weren't destroyed by the quake, many people are afraid to go back inside standing structures because of lingering aftershocks.
10:06 a.m. Many countries report missing, dead citizens
The Associated Press has compiled a list by nation of confirmed dead and missing citizens.
10:00 a.m. Security Council chief on his way to Haiti
National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is headed to Haiti to help coordinate the communications efforts, our colleague Michael Shear has learned. McDonough will be working out of a joint information center at the airport.
9:56 a.m. Clinton mourns diplomat killed in earthquake
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has released a statement about Victoria DeLong, one of the U.S. diplomats who was killed in the earthquake:
This morning I spoke with the family of Victoria DeLong, the Cultural Affairs Officer at our Embassy in Port-Au-Prince who lost her life in the earthquake. I expressed my sincerest condolences on behalf of the men and women of the State Department and the American people. So many have lost their lives in this tragedy. The United Nations has suffered grievous losses. And the Haitian people have endured unimaginable heartbreak. For the State Department, we have lost one of our own.
Victoria was a veteran Foreign Service Officer who worked tirelessly to build bridges of understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of Haiti. She served her country with distinction and honor, and she will be sorely missed.
Victoria's friends and colleagues at the Embassy are working day and night to support vital relief and recovery efforts, and our thoughts, our prayers, and our deepest thanks are with them as well. Along with the military personnel, the search and rescue teams, and all the aid and relief workers now deploying, they represent the unwavering commitment of the United States to stand with Haiti in its hour of need and in the hard days and years to come. My heart is with the DeLong family today, and with all those in Haiti and around the world who have lost loved ones and friends in this disaster.
9:28 a.m. $8 million raised for Haiti relief via text message
As of Friday morning, Americans have donated more than $8 million to Haiti relief in $10 increments sent via text message, a White House spokesman said this morning.
The text donation system was set up by the Red Cross and the State Department to allow a new way for Americans to funnel money to the rescue effort.
The system allows people to donate $10 at a time by texting HAITI to 90999. The donation is then charged to users' mobile phone accounts.
--Michael D. Shear
9:20 a.m. U.N. Secretary General may travel to Haiti
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is making plans to travel to Port-au-Prince within days to survey the wreckage from Tuesday's massive earthquake, according to two UN sources. One of those sources cautioned that the final decision for Ban to go to Haiti has not been made, but said it is very likely to happen. U.N. headquarters in Port-au-Prince was devastated by the earthquake. At least 36 U.N. employees have been confirmed dead, scores are injured and nearly 200--including the mission chief--remain unaccounted for.
--Colum F. Lynch
9:01 a.m. Clinton official: Failed good intentions foreshadowed Haiti's disaster
As Bill Clinton takes on a bigger role providing long-term disaster relief after this week's earthquake, it will be interesting to see whether his '90s Haiti policies become a factor.
In case you missed it, former Clinton official David Rothkopf had a piece in Foreign Policy on Wednesday, mourning the U.S.'s missed opportunities to help Haiti politically and economically. He writes that "with every failure to act or to follow through on a good intention, we assured yesterday's outcomes."
Rothkopf, Clinton's Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, lead the inter-agency effort tasked with assisting Haiti's economic recovery after Operation Uphold Democracy, the U.S. military and peacekeeping response to an aborted 1994 coup.
In all its benighted history, perhaps Haiti's greatest moment of hope since its independence came just a decade and a half ago. Back then, America finally took interest in its near neighbor as a consequence of a political crisis that, thanks in part to our intervention, resulted in the departure of a dictator whose family had oppressed and raped the island and his replacement by a quiet priest who was embraced by many in the United States as our hemisphere's Mandela. As it turned out, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was hardly the saint that Hollywood stars and misty-eyed journalists had seen him to be.
But we in the Clinton administration did not know that back then -- or at least many did not.... We committed thousands of troops and billions of dollars to the country to help give it a new chance....
International interest waned ... although to the credit of the United Nations, they remained engaged in a way that put many of their dedicated workers at great risk yesterday. But over time, due to our naiveté and the fecklessness of Haitian political leaders the energy behind recovery efforts nonetheless ebbed and with terror and economic crises claiming center stage, the United States lost the political will to assist the struggling country. Good intentions and a pregnant moment were overtaken by events ... and in a way, that's when yesterday's tragedy began. With every dollar withheld, with every program withdrawn, with every aid worker shifted to a different front in a more politically pressing development initiative, somebody's death was foretold.
8:30 a.m. Clinton calls for long-term relief to Haiti
Former president Bill Clinton, who serves as the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, blitzed the network morning shows today from his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., saying he and former president George W. Bush are committed to helping earthquake-ravaged Haiti "build back better." Watch video from ABC's Good Morning America.
He also spoke with The Post's Philip Rucker late last night. "You've seen the pictures....The streets are full of the wounded, the orphaned and the dead. It's a devastating, devastating thing."
8:13 a.m. Survivors break into U.N. food warehouses
As hunger mounts in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, the United Nations says that people are breaking into their food warehouses and taking what they can, adding another challenge to the efforts to feed at least 2 million survivors of the earthquake, reports the Associated Press.
The U.N. World Food Program stressed that looting was normal in emergency situations, but spokeswoman Emilia Casella said the agency didn't know how much remained of its pre-quake stockpile of 15,000 tons of food aid in Port-au-Prince.
She noted that regular food stores in the capital also "have been cleaned out" by desperate Haitians since Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed thousands and left countless more buried under the rubble.
7:56 a.m. Twitter points to trapped survivors
Twitter users are using the hashtag #rescuemehaiti to attempt to direct search and rescue teams to victims of the earthquake who are still buried under rubble or otherwise in dire need of help and medical care, reports Global Voices. Here are a few representative tweets:
@seedplanter11: tweeting hash #rescuemehaiti 4 named victims @ known locations in Haiti needing rescue also. #victimmissinghaiti missing person
@IstanbulTWSTVL: URGENT Christopher Frecynet is still alive under his house. 64 Rue Nord Alexis.(RUELLE NAZON, AVENUE POUPELARD #rescuemehaiti #haiti
@M300Ministries: #rescuemehaiti @veryono 63 people still alive Carribean Market. survivor sent txt so we can send help. PLEASE LET PPL KNOW
7:29 a.m. Aristide wants to return to Haiti to help with crisis
The Associated Press is reporting that former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, living in exile in Africa since he was ousted in a rebellion five years ago, gave a rare public press conference in which he expressed a desire to go back to Haiti and is prepared to leave immediately.
Aristide told reporters at a hotel next to Johannesburg's airport that he and his family are ready to return to Haiti to help with the catastrophe. He said friends, whom he did not name, are willing to provide a plane to fly him to Haiti with medical supplies and other emergency equipment.
"As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity," said Aristide, his wife Mildred next to him, eyes downcast, twisting a handkerchief.
Aristide, a former slum preacher, was beloved by many of Haiti's majority poor but opposition to his rule grew during his second presidential term after he was accused of masterminding assaults on opponents, allowing drug-fueled corruption and breaking promises to help the poor. Still, during riots in Haiti in 2008 over soaring food prices there was a deafening clamor for Aristide's return, showing that he remains hugely popular.
If Aristide does return, political instability in an impoverished nation struggling to dig itself out from the massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake could result. Aristide has previously hinted at returning, saying he merely wants to be a teacher. But his enduring popularity and ability to galvanize Haitians would likely propel him into the political spotlight.
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