Earthquake Devastates Haiti; Humanitarian Crisis Continues


An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck the Caribbean nation of Haiti on January 12, leaving an estimated 200,000 people dead, and hundreds of thousands without homes. Many survivors are suffering from malnutrition, lack of water, and injuries caused by collapsing buildings. Centered just west of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, the quake was the severest to hit the region in two centuries. Along with schools, hospitals, and a prison, the tremor toppled the Presidential Palace. The destruction has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that United Nations officials say is the worst in the organization’s 65-year history.

International aid is pouring into the country, as people around the world donate money and send relief supplies. But distribution of much-needed food and medicine to parts of the country has been slowed by blocked roads, lack of transport and fuel, and other infrastructure problems. The country’s sole international airport has only one runway and limited space for planes on the ground. Haiti’s key port facility also suffered damage. Initially, such obstacles hampered delivery of promised relief. Despite criticisms that aid is not reaching many who need it, 24/7 efforts by United Nations peacekeeping troops and United States military personnel, together with numerous nongovernmental organizations and Haitians themselves, are making a life-saving difference.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Even before the earthquake, it was beset by health crises, hurricanes (three in 2008 alone), deforestation and erosion, political upheaval, and economic underdevelopment. The earthquake exposed serious problems with construction standards and basic infrastructure in Haiti, as well as the Haitian government’s weakness.

Image © Orlando Barria/epa/Corbisc

Related Links

  • Haiti Earthquake
    This in-depth BBC Web page includes up-to-date coverage of the devastation and humanitarian crisis in the earthquake-stricken Caribbean country: articles on Haiti’s troubled “history of misery”; inspiring survivors’ stories; plus photos and videos.
    (BBC News, January 29, 2010)
  • Haiti
    This New York Times Web page includes “Haiti’s Earthquake: A Photo Gallery” and multiple links to background stories and updates.
    (New York Times, January 25, 2010)
  • Haiti Earthquake: Special Reports
    This Voice of America News Web site includes links to official agencies as well as dozens of human-interest stories about the earthquake damage, the humanitarian aid effort, survivors, and much more.
    (VOA News; accessed January 29, 2010)
  • Haiti Earthquake: The Struggle to Distribute Aid
    This article contains audio of a journalist’s interviews with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, now a UN special envoy to Haiti, and Thierry Durand of Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders).
    (BBC News, January 19, 2010)
  • Country Profile: Haiti
    This BBC News Web page provides facts about Haiti’s geography and history.
    (BBC News, January 19, 2010)

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Summarize What factors are affecting the post-earthquake relief effort in Haiti?
  2. Make Predictions How might the dire conditions in Haiti directly affect the United States and U.S. citizens?
  3. Form and Support Opinions Should U.S. troops and relief workers should remain in Haiti until life is more or less back to normal? Why or why not?


  1. Lola says:


  2. Pintu says:

    With all do respect, I would be wliilng to bet that Google made huge profits on such a terrible tragedy during the many hours after the tragedy in Haiti with their ad filled irrelevant search engine. How much did they donate? The answer, $1million. How nice and how much did they make during? This is not about Google, this is about hundreds of thousands of actual real people’s lives that have been shattered or lost. As far as I am concerned Google consist of transparent parasites with no human elements what so ever. Os and 1s but I would guess mostly 0s. I was a new AdSense publisher back in December to find out a few short weeks later otherwise, due to claims with no merit, explanation or consideration of the facts. I am curious why Google is having their own China syndrome problem and if their tactics and policies are even legal here in the United States of America, especially when it comes down to infringing on your very own so called privacy. Watch Out don’t get Googled. Smarten up and find an ad agency with real human beings that have integrity, communication skills, compassion and not afraid to admit that now and again they may make a mistake. God bless the people in Haiti and through out this world, no issue with Google can compare to the issues of our true lives. My final say here is that this is not an attack on any employee, client or individual associated with Google but on its policy and lack of customer interaction, in other words there is not any evidence that there are any human beings in charge of this entity. Maybe I will here from them, Mo