Just a day after the Chavez claim, a French official is now accusing the United States of “occupying” Haiti and turning away relief supplies. French minister in charge of humanitarian relief Alain Joyandet made the allegation after having an argument with a U.S. commander over the flight plan for a French evacuation flight.
“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” Joyandet said. Joyandet is a French politician who was previously appointed Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophony. He is a journalist by training.
Once again, the allegations of occupation are, in my view, utter nonsense. Troops are being sent in because gangs are taking over the streets of Haiti. There was already a serious gang problem in Haiti before the earthquake and now they are roaming the streets with machetes and chasing away relief workers.
There are probably some legitimate objections to the priority given flights. Some relief planes have been sent to nearby islands as controllers try to manage one of the largest relief operations in history.
Joyandet’s request to “clarify” the American role may also reflect a valid objection that we have simply taken over the airport without authority. However, the U.S. management makes a lot of sense. We have more experience and more resources — and time is of the essence. It seems to me that Joyandet is a bit put out, but no one else appears able or willing to manage this mess. The local government is in shambles and the prime minister has been accused of virtually disappearing from the island.
However, I am very concerned about accounts from various NGOs that we are turning away vital supplies. I also agree with Joyandet that there should be a clear understanding on the primary management of the effort.
Geneva-based charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has made similar claims against the U.S. for turning away supplies — tons of needed medicine and food.
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