Aid Group: Bad Time for Missions to Haiti

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Aid workers in Haiti are reporting chaos at Port-au-Prince International Airport, where many of them have been sleeping on the ground without hot meals or toilet facilities since they began arriving shortly after the Jan. 12 quake.

Around the city, the existing infrastructure is struggling to handle the aid already flowing in, and resources are scarce.

Operation Blessing International President Bill Horan, who is currently in Haiti, explained that security has become a major concern.

"There's no good place to stay," he said. "There's not enough food to eat. Clean drinking water is hard to come by. The resources that are available I would think would be better served being consumed by the people of Haiti and not by a bunch of folks from the United States."

"It's difficult to get into Haiti still - there's no commercial air flights available," Horan explained. "Once you get there, there's no place to stay. Even if you know someone in a church and you stay with them, you're going to be a burden on their meager resources at this time. Maybe in a few months it would be a great idea, but right now it's not a good idea at all."

Last week, 10 Baptist short-term missionaries were arrested as they attempted to move a group of Haitian children across the border into the Dominican Republic - an act that may land the group in prison, no matter how well-intentioned.

It has also raised concerns among the Haitian people about human trafficking, which has been made worse by the criminal element taking advantage of the disorganization around the city.

"It's a very difficult situation that you have here," John Schafer, UN Security Coordinator for Interaction, a coalition of US Based NGO's, said. "They're starting to reorganize some of the criminal activities that are going on. "

"You probably see on each corner somebody with a cell phone - they're trying to target the most vulnerable people," he explained. "There's a lot of vulnerable kids out here - some of them may not have family with them and might be staying with aunts and uncles. So we're trying to do the best we can to keep peace in here."

Although the lack of resources, infrastructure, and security is making this a difficult time to for short-term missionaries to enter Haiti, Horan says there are still ways to help the people here get back on their feet.

"People are probably not going to want to hear this, but in my opinion the best way for churches to help the people of Haiti is to pray for the aid workers that are on the ground and collect money and send it to a charity that is on the ground doing effective work," he said.

Special Page:

Haiti Earthquake & Relief

Giving to Disaster Relief:

Disaster Relief

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Chuck Holton

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