News: International community rallies for Haiti relief
By Sgt. Richard Andrade
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Nearly one month after the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti Jan. 12, the recovery effort has become an international, interagency event.
"This is truly an international effort," said Ambassador Louis Lucke, special coordinator for relief and reconstruction for Haiti. "We have effective participation from many friends of Haiti and from around the world, like the United Nations and from a number of other non-governmental organizations in carrying out this program of assistance."
Lucke credits the U.S. military for much of the progress. "We have achieved and benefited greatly from the cooperation of the U.S. military forces. Their capabilities and level of cooperation are really incredible."
"The U.S. military was called on to support the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead agency for our government, in these relief efforts," said Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, deputy commanding general, U.S. Southern Command, and commander, Joint Task Force — Haiti.
"We responded immediately with several key tasks," said Keen, "to immediately save lives and provide emergency assistance to those that were struggling to meet the needs of the Haitian people."
Immediately after the earthquake, humanitarian aid delivery and search and rescue from the international community became a priority.
"The first day after the earthquake was 'rescue,' Lucke said. "We brought in teams from all over the United States. Many other countries did the same, and we focused on immediate relief efforts including food, water and medical attention."
Lucke said the involvement of the Haitian government in the relief efforts has been tremendous.
"There has been a great deal of very visible and effective Haitian leadership," Lucke said, "The participation and leadership of the government of Haiti is essential from here on into the future."
International relief efforts will continue as Haiti rebuilds.
"This is truly an international effort," said Keen, "with the focus on unity of effort and providing much needed relief assistance to the people of Haiti.
The multi-nation, non-governmental agencies and the U.S. forces have accomplished much, but still have a long way to go.
Lucke said, 'This Haiti mission is a huge undertaking and it is going to take time. There will be pockets of need, but we will identify the needs and address them."