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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Mayor of New Orleans suggests thousands may be dead

“Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands,” said Ray Nagin, the Mayor, when asked about the death toll. “There are dead bodies floating in the water. The rescuers were basically pushing them aside as they rescued people.”
Times Online

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says they haven't been invited to "help" yet. Wonder why?

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 9/01/2005 06:59:00 pm


Blogger Chefen said...

It's only been a few days. You need to wait at least a week before dispatching an elite factfinding team to the area.

9/01/2005 07:20:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Actually, the main reason that the UN hasn't been invited is beacuse the US has the capability and capacity to respond without International help at this stage. The US is probably the best-resourced country in the world remember? The UN is only requested to help when countries are not capable of managing the event themselves. I know a few people that are in the first response UN teams, good people, and the first ones do go very quickly - the boxing day earthquake and tsunami was one example. If you stuck the consequences of Katrina in nearly any other country, the UN would be invited very quickly.

9/01/2005 07:34:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Actually, to add to that, those UN people have to be ready to go at a moments notice and have to live and work within a certain amount of time from an international airport. They can be on the ground very quickly.

9/01/2005 07:37:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

The reason no-one turns to the UN for help these days (if they ever really did) is because they have no capability to help, and because no-one trusts them to get the job done. The United Nations was never intended to be a welfare agency for dysfunctional countries, which is apparently what liberals wish it to be and is the role the UN assigns itself in its various PR stunts. But it has failed miserably in even that capacity. When the largest funder of United Nations activity has no need for the services of the UN, then why should we continue to pretend it means anything.

NGO's run by people who are interested in their work are much more efficient at arranging aid, and Western militaries are much more efficient at stepping in with logistical help during emergencies.

9/01/2005 08:35:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

The Russians have offered to send a rescue plane, but the Americans have declined the offer at this stage.

9/01/2005 08:47:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

AL, you are right. The UN fills a co-ordination role and does not have a lot of capacity. They have small reconnaissance teams whose responsibility it is to quickly go in and assess needs, work with the locals to determine the extent and type of international assistance required. The NGO's often end up providing most of the actual assistance, but it is co-ordinated through the UN. For example - the UN should end up co-ordinating all of the International Rescue Teams through the national government. They also focus on International issues such as customs. Think of the fun you can have bringing medical supplies and all sorts of rescue equipment through customs. The UN facilitates those details.

9/01/2005 09:01:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Actually if you read the Diplomad's back posts (he/she was in Indonesia during and after the Tsunami) you'll see the UN's reaction was hopeless, but their PR suggested they were doing all the coordination. That was not the case.

9/01/2005 09:09:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

AL, I know one of the UN people that was in Indonesia, and they were somewhat of a special case. The UN had a lot of difficulty because the Indonesian military erected obstacles everywhere for them. The Indonesians, whilst they did really need International support, didn't want it because they were fighting a war against the Aceh province rebels. The Indonesians made it very difficult for International workers to move around, they hated the idea of the Americans providing support with an Aircraft Carrier just over the horizon etc. Sure the UN's response in Indonesia might have been hopeless, but I wouldn't blame it on them, I'd blame it on the Indonesian military and government.

9/01/2005 09:23:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

From what I understand the Indonesians have a permanent bureaucracy problem, which somehow the Red Cross, US Singaporean and Oz militaries, and numerous other organisations, got around - within days.

9/01/2005 10:14:00 pm  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Oh there were ways around many of the issues. I remember that he told some funny tales at his presentation about interactions between the American and Indonesian military, you know negotiating access etc, but for the life of me I can't remember the details.

9/01/2005 10:38:00 pm  

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