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Haiti earthquake updates: live blog

Almost a week after the earthquake the US military has begun airdropping aid supplies amid growing frustration at the chaotic organisation of the relief effort. Follow live updates

us airborne drop aid in Haiti

People run toward a US helicopter as it makes a water drop near a country club used as a forward operating base for the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP

The US military has begun airdropping aid supplies after previously stating that this would be too risky, the BBC reports.

Haiti: how to donate

Jean Chandula, 3, is treated at the Jean Damien children's hospital in Haiti.

  1. The Disasters Emergency Committee is collecting funds on behalf of 13 UK charities. UK residents can give via its website, by texting GIVE to 70077 (network charges apply) or by phone on 0370 6060900

More US troops are about to arrive in Haiti, amid criticism from the French government. "It's a matter of helping Haiti, not occupying Haiti," the cooperation minister Alain Joyandet said.

It looks like an invasion, Ed Pilkington reports from Port-au-Prince, but the troops he talked to insist they not coming to invade.

Meanwhile, aid agencies have warned that Haitians are dying needlessly amid "utter chaos" in the organisation of relief efforts. Time is running out for those trapped in the rubble, but survivors are still being freed.

The Australian broadcaster ABC says that US military aircraft have been given priority over planes carrying medical supplies.

Toothpaste, is especially prized in Port-au-Prince as it helps fend off the stench of decaying bodies, according to the FT.

Accounts differ sharply on the level of violence in Haiti. "Anything will do as a weapon: a hacksaw, a stick, and of course all the machetes and guns that you cannot see," reports the BBC's Matt Frei.

But the Guardian's Ed Pilkington says he has not witnessed any violence

Link to this audio

And others say that talk of "anarchy" is overstated. Christian blogger Troy Livesay writes: "The reports of violence - we don't get those. Have not seen it. Have not experienced it. Nothing even remotely close. People are helping each other and are warm and kind and humble."

The latest analysis of satellite images by the UN shows the roads and bridges blocked by debris in Port-au-Prince and Carrefour.

An estimated 200,000 people are now thought to have died in the disaster, Haitian government official told the European Commission. AP reports that 70,000 bodies have been recovered and buried in mass graves.

CNN's Anderson Cooper has another muscular report on some chaotic scenes in Haiti.

Cooper is being hailed as a "hero" and praised for securing "stunning footage". But the tone of his reports and the focus on violence and looting has been criticised by some.

"You learned from us the damage media and journalists can cause by exaggerating rumours of violence and chaos," blogs Tracie Washington a lawyer with the Louisiana Justice Institute.

But she accuses Anderson of forgetting the lessons from hurricane Katrina.

The police appear to be encouraging vigilantism, according to AP.

"If you don't kill the criminals, they will all come back," a Haitian police officer shouts over a loudspeaker in the country's most notorious slum, Cité Soleil.

What do Haitians most need now? Solar-powered audio Bibles would not be high on the list. But a evangelical group from Albuquerque, in the US, has sent 600 of these "Proclaimers" to broadcast the Bible in Haitian Creole.

"There is an immediate need for another 3,000 Proclaimers. We want to equip short-term groups, disaster relief teams, church teams and other ministries with the word of God in a format the people can use," said Jon Wilke of Faith Comes By Hearing.

Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born musician, has responded further to allegations that his Yele Haiti Foundation mismanaged donations, admitting the aid organisation "made mistakes".

Delays in getting aid to Haiti have prompted the European Union to consider setting up a humanitarian rapid reaction force to deal with disasters.

Speaking on a visit to London the EU's new president, Herman van Rompuy, said the delays had showed the need for a "rapid reaction force", AP reports.


An aid worker from the medical relief group Operation Blessing International describes a "tense" journey on the way to make shift hospital in a stadium in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti Quake Response: Day 3fromOB UKonVimeo.

"We try keep moving because when we stop people surround the vehicles," he says.

Michele Wucker, executive director of US thinktank World Policy Institute, assesses the possible impact of the crisis on sometimes difficult relations between Haiti and its neighbour the Dominican republic.

The spread of disease has become a major concern in Haiti, Mark Tran reports.

My colleague Paddy Allen has produced a useful new interactive guide to Port-au-Prince and the continuing logistical barriers to the distribution of aid. Using a satellite image it shows the key sites in the city including field hospitals, World Food Programme sites and medical facilities.

Dozens of Haitian orphans are being flown to Pittsburgh today, according to CBS.


A Pat Robertson voodoo doll has gone on sale on eBay. All proceeds go to Haiti.

In case you missed it Robertson sparked widespread outrage when he suggested Haiti brought disaster on itself because of pact with the devil.

USAID has updated its factsheet on the relief operation including new details about the air drops. It also reports that 70 people have so been rescued from the rubble, by international urban search and rescue teams, which it says unprecedented at this stage of such operation.

Perhaps in response to the criticism of the relief effort it gives a detailed breakdown of work that is being done.

American troops are arriving in Port-au-Prince in even greater numbers.

A dozen US helicopters landed on the grounds of presidential palace and began dropping off soldiers troops in full combat gear, according to a Reuters photographer.

It appeared to be one of the biggest US military deployments so far, Reuters said.

Richard Morse, who has been regularly tweeting from Haiti since the earthquake struck, has been reflecting on the disorder in Port-au-Prince in a series of recent posts.

When ppl are hungry they don't realize that they're getting unruly. The bad apples then take advantage.

No sense of who is going 2 lead this next phase. There had better be some changes. Better figure out how 2 get food and water 2 ppl real qwik.

Is the aid really going 2 get 2 the people?. We're looking 4 live bodies.."Did you bring food?" Can u blame someone who's hungry 4 looting?

"Why is there no international team of medical personnel available for dispatch as swiftly as emissaries of the global media?" asks Jeremy Seabrook on Comment is Free.

The earthquake has been one of Oxfam's toughest every challenges.

Its country director, Yolette Etienne, said: "Many of my staff here have lost their homes, and some have had family losses. Two Oxfam members of staff were killed when the quake struck and I lost my own mother. But we are still here working. I told my staff that we have no choice, no other option but to work and to work harder since we have the privilege of still being here and we can help people to overcome their desperation."

(That's it from me, Haroon Siddique is about to take over).

The Guardian's Ed Pilkington has tweeted (see right hand side of this page) about a visit to an orphanage in Haiti:

no food water books. no toys. kids are scared of all the death

how can you make kids feel better i ask head of orphanage in Haiti. I cant she says

He adds that 10 children from the orphanage were flown to Utah yesterday, after Mormons came to their aid.

On the subject of the plight of orphans, the Dutch foreign ministry said today that a a charter plane heading to Haiti to pick up 109 children being adopted by Dutch families will likely reach Port-au-Prince tomorrow, AP reports.

The plane carrying aid and immigration officials as well as adoption workers is waiting in the Netherlands Antilles for the final short hop to Haiti.

There has been controversy over moves to adopt Haitian children, with some children's groups warning it could lead to "fraud, abuse and trafficking".

However, all but nine of the children the Dutch are collecting had already been assigned to a families before last week's earthquake.

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to increase the number of UN troops and police in Haiti by 3,500, more than a third, to 12,561. The temporary increase has a six-month mandate.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described it as "a clear signal that the world is with Haiti and thanked the council for its "swift action".

The debate over the extent of violence in Haiti continues to polarise opinions.
Dr Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, working at the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince, told Democracy Now: "There are no security issues."

One thing that it is important for people to understand is misinformation and rumours and - at the bottom of the issue - racism have slowed the recovery efforts of this hospital

Lyon said there are 1,000 people in need of operations at the hospital but overblown reports of violence had hampered the delivery of aid and medical services.

There is a moving post by Mark Turner, a former Financial Times journalist, on his Dispatches from a Fragile Island blog:

The full extent of the losses to our community is finally hitting home, as hope disappears.

This morning we learned of the death of the wonderful, vivacious Alexandra Duguay, whose house we visited only a couple of weeks ago. Also at that house party was Andrew Wyllie and family. Andrew survived, but his family did not....

It's devastating. Everyone we met, every party we attended, everyone we had a meal with or invited over has either perished, or lost someone very close.

Kent Annan and John Engle, from Haiti Partners, a church-based educational charity in the country, reflect on what's happening on the streets in a video on their blog.

Christian Aid tweets:

Food rations per person for 15 days: 6kg rice, 0.9kg beans, 0.9kg sardines, 0.45kg veg oil, 0.075kg salt. fortnightly distributions

That's the end of the live blog for today. Thank you for following our updates and for your comments. Please feel free to continue commenting. For the latest news updates visit

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Haiti earthquake updates: live blog

This article was published on at 08.11 GMT on Tuesday 19 January 2010. It was last modified at 17.03 GMT on Tuesday 19 January 2010.

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  • BarkingMad BarkingMad

    19 Jan 2010, 10:11AM

    And others say that talk of "anarchy" is overstated.

    No, the real anarchy is being understated. Given the continued questioning of where all the much needed aid actually is you might wonder, ?How are the Haitian?s actually surviving?? The answer is that even in the face of such a disaster the people of Haiti are co-operating, organising mutual aid and looking after each other. This is a testament to their people and the human spirit. It?s only a shame that the media are not actually giving as much airtime to how they are doing this rather than concentrating on what are terrible, but minority cases of violence.

    An aid worker said this morning that 90% of the organisation after such an event always comes from the people themselves. Yes aid is important, yes it is often vital but the idea that human beings can organise themselves and look after each other is an important and overlooked part of such disasters.

    Vive le peuple d'Haïti.

  • itsikdewembley itsikdewembley

    19 Jan 2010, 10:30AM

    Why does it take so long to establish field hospitals which can handle surgeries like the Israeli one?

    The US should have used the airfield in a better way and someone need to answer.
    It is obvious the lessons from Katrina were not tought!

  • evolutionary evolutionary

    19 Jan 2010, 10:34AM

    2 days after the quake the pentagon said air drops would lead to riots....
    if they had dropped supplies from the air immediately they could have bypassed the airport and addressed needs before people got desperate and probably saved thousands of lives and untold suffering
    ... putting the military in charge what a great idea..

  • itsikdewembley itsikdewembley

    19 Jan 2010, 10:35AM

    Sorry forgot about this one. No mention of these facts else where.
    Why does no one shifts a gear?

  • uptonogood uptonogood

    19 Jan 2010, 1:01PM

    How come every single news agency around the world has managed to get its news crews and equipment flown in but aid is not getting through? Has this helped the reported airport congestion? I think not. Of course the disaster needs reporting but do we need so many news agencies there (can't they share resources? Why not?). How long before the people in Haiti turn on the journalists - I can see why they would.

    Would someone also tell me how Bill Clinton's visit has helped (other than no doubt helping the US acquire some rebuidling contracts down the line)? Was his plane stuffed full of food/water/medical supplies/tents/anything useful?

    And Royal Caribbean - you disgust me, the food you took on board in Haiti should have been donated to people 60 miles away who are starving.

  • DenisJoe DenisJoe

    19 Jan 2010, 1:11PM

    It is incredible that an aid operation to help people in crisis is turned into a military operation. We get reports of criminal gangs roaming the street then reports to the opposite and charity workers are reported to be in fear of their lives.

    I thought charity was about other people not about the safety or otherwise of aid workers and emergency services.

    It strikes me that if a person is to go into an unknown situation like a disaster and the intention is to help people then that act requires a level of risk.

  • Sutch Sutch

    19 Jan 2010, 2:05PM

    Since we can't get very much aid to them, why don't we get as many Haitiens as possible out, just for a few months until a new city begins to be built, obviously in a different place, then they will be fit enough to go back and help building it. I'm sure church halls, sports stadiums, people all over the world would help. We are all praying and fasting, but practical help, keeping children and adults alive is more important. They could be brought back to wherever on the planes that bring in supplies and aid. Then the Red Cross and other iinternational organisations could distribute them, some first to hospitals then to temporary dwellings. I think the world doesn't yet realise the amplitude of this catastrophe, which they have to do before finding solutions adapted to the problem. I propose one solution, but many more are needed. Remeber the little boats. We won.

  • scheherezade scheherezade

    19 Jan 2010, 2:17PM

    And Royal Caribbean - you disgust me, the food you took on board in Haiti should have been donated to people 60 miles away who are starving

    They didn't take on food: they delivered tons of it to be distributed in Haiti.

  • scheherezade scheherezade

    19 Jan 2010, 2:18PM

    I thought charity was about other people not about the safety or otherwise of aid workers and emergency services.

    Well, tell that to the team of Spanish rescuers who abandoned a teenage girl they had been digging out because they heard about some fighting a few blocks away.

  • CautiousOptimist CautiousOptimist

    19 Jan 2010, 2:22PM

    I know its somewhat long, but worth reposting -

    "It literally became, if there was a parking space open, we would get them on the ground and get them in here. Unfortunately sometimes, you got big aircraft that occupy a big spot on the ramp and we can't get them out fast enough -- and so people are having to hold to get in," Air Force Col. Ben McMullen told Fox News.

    The airport has room for about a half-dozen planes to park, depending on their size, said Col. Buck Elton, the U.S. Southern Command commander for south Haiti. He said the 10,000-foot strip is accustomed to hosting three aircraft on a daily basis.

    As of Sunday, five days after the 7.0-magnitude quake devastated Haiti's capital, the U.S. military, working with sparse equipment and primitive controls, has managed about 600 landings and take-offs.

    "The airfield has not been closed since we started operation. It has just been full," Elton said, noting that the facility can hold about one wide-body and five narrow-body aircraft as well as three smaller aircraft at any given time.

    "Any aircraft that can taxi into the grass and get off the ramp that the big aircraft need to be on, we use that option," he added.

    Approximately 40 percent of the aircraft landing are military and 60 percent civilian.

    Despite the complaints, Elton said just three planes were diverted on Sunday out of 67 civilian flights that arrived. The difficulty of the process has been compounded by the fact that the tower and terminal have been condemned due to the damage and all of the operations are being done in the grass between the runway and ramp.

    "It's done via radio control from our controllers that are in contact with the Haitian approach control that does not have an operational radar or any navigational aids to assist the arrival of the aircraft, and with a communications link that we have back to the Haitian flight operations coordination center back at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida," Elton said.

    Elton said that occasionally "improperly configured cargo" that needs to be off-loaded by hand, equipment breakage and aircraft problems have forced planes to stay on the ground past the two or three hours allotted per plane. When that happens, other planes are caught up in the air.

    He added that the military is using aircraft with refueling tankers on them so when an inbound civilian plane needs to land to offload its cargo, the military plane can manage to stay in the air, then quickly come down and offload it cargo and get back up in the air again with minimal time on the ground.

  • truthinmedia truthinmedia

    19 Jan 2010, 3:05PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.
  • scheherezade scheherezade

    19 Jan 2010, 3:11PM

    That's just not true, truthinmedia. Plenty of Muslim-majority countries are sending aid and teams.

    Picked up from another website:

    Bahrain: The government has donated $1 million to relief efforts.

    Jordan: A Jordanian air force plane carrying a military field hospital and 6 tons of food and supplies left Amman on January 14. A second plane carrying Jordanian medics left the following day.

    Iran: Iran's Red Crescent society sent 30 tons of humanitarian aid, including food, tents and medicine, on January 16.

    Kuwait: Kuwait donated $1 million to relief efforts; the Red Crescent is preparing 100 tons of food, medical supplies, tents and blankets to fly to Haiti.

    Lebanon: Lebanon is loading a plane with 25 tons of tents and 3 tons of medical supplies; it leaves tomorrow.

    Morocco: Two planes carrying 24 tons of aid left the city of Kenitra on January 16. The Moroccan government has pledged $1 million in aid to Haiti.

    Qatar: A Qatari C-17 aircraft loaded with 50 tons of aid left for Port-au-Prince on January 14. The Qatari government also sent a rescue team to set up a field hospital; the Red Crescent will sent another $100,000.

    Turkey: Three cargo planes -- carrying search-and-rescue teams, a mobile hospital and aid materials -- left for Haiti on January 16. Another two planes left yesterday. Turkey has also donated $1 million in cash.

    United Arab Emirates: The UAE sent two planes loaded with tents, and a team from the UAE's Red Crescent will arrive in the Dominican Republic tomorrow to buy $500,000 worth of supplies and truck them to Haiti. Another 50 tons of emergency supplies will be air-lifted from Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

    And these are just the countries in our area of interest -- I didn't include majority-Muslim countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which have also made contributions. Oh, and the Islamic Society of North America set up a fund for Haiti, too.

  • Fungolo33 Fungolo33

    19 Jan 2010, 3:12PM

    Is it really true that the wealthy Arab nations have contributed nothing? Not even money? Who has contributed what? Where does one go to find answers to this kind of question? Links, anyone?

    Not picking a fight truthinmedia. I think I'm disgusted as you appear to be. I'd like to find out more.


  • scheherezade scheherezade

    19 Jan 2010, 3:22PM

    No worries, Fungolo33. I have to say that I think the media seems to be doing everything it can to make a horrible situation worse by the way it is presenting information. It's very easy to think that other countries aren't doing anything at all, and what they are doing, they're doing really badly. All this nationalistic banging on about what OUR country has done - it makes it sound like everyone else is sitting around twiddling their thumbs drinking cappucinos. Very nasty, some of it - deliberate attempts to make a drama out of a horrible crisis, is how it looks.

    But anyway, as you said, it's good to get a feel for the sheer scale of the international effort. There is good in the world, maybe.

  • uptonogood uptonogood

    19 Jan 2010, 3:42PM

    scheherezade -

    So you're trying to tell me that the 3,500 Royal Caribbean passengers onboard the cruiseliner that docked didn't consume any local produce and that none was taken on board? No foodstuffs whatsoever? Right. And that supports the local economy how then (afterall, that was the company's justification for not cancelling the ship's visit)?

    And it was 'forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods' - exactly how big were these pallets if they amount to 'tons'?

  • scheherezade scheherezade

    19 Jan 2010, 3:50PM


    So you're trying to tell me that the 3,500 Royal Caribbean passengers onboard the cruiseliner that docked didn't consume any local produce and that none was taken on board? No foodstuffs whatsoever? Right. And that supports the local economy how then (afterall, that was the company's justification for not cancelling the ship's visit)?

    I'm telling you that the ships are not taking on food in Labadee, yes.

    These visits support the local economy because the cruise lines pay the Haitian government $6 for each passenger on the ship to drop anchor there. 3000 passengers per ship, a ship every day - that's not too bad.

    And it was 'forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods' - exactly how big were these pallets if they amount to 'tons'?

    Forty pallets, every day...

    I think you just need to admit that your disgust was misplaced and move on.

  • UrsusMaximus UrsusMaximus

    19 Jan 2010, 3:58PM


    And it was 'forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods' - exactly how big were these pallets if they amount to 'tons'?

    The nerd answer is that standard pallets are around 1 square metre (according to Wikipedia). If a pallet is stacked 1 metre high, that's 1 cubic metre. If the pallet is carrying water, that's a tonne of water straight away, for instance. The same volume of canned food will weigh as much or more. But even if each pallet only weighed 500 kg, that'd be 20 tonnes.

    No idea whether the Royal Caribbean passengers consumed any local produce (would be pretty off if they had) but 40 pallets is a lot of food -- corresponds to a heavily-laden truck.

  • scrap scrap

    19 Jan 2010, 4:06PM

    @ truthinmedia,

    I'd love to see you come back here and take responsibility for your earlier post. And you talk about "hate"... seems that you are the one hijacking this event to make a political point. Disgusting.

    @ uptonogood,

    Likewise, if you have evidence about Royal Carribean, point us to it. I'll join you in disgust. If you've got your wires crossed, or are talking rubbish, give it up.

    There are so many questions being raised about this disaster, and the best way of responding to it. I'm no in Haiti and I've never been there, so can't comment on whether the various agencies are getting things right or not. But it seems to me that the "looting" that's being reported could mainly just be people scavenging for anything that might keep them and their families alive.

    I hope that, once the immediate crisis is over, the UN and other aid agencies learn from this, and work out how they could respond better in future.

  • geoffic geoffic

    19 Jan 2010, 4:56PM

    Apparently only the Israelis have a Surgical Unit in Haiti.
    And imaging with lab services
    See on CNN
    And these quotes: />no-one except the Israeli hospital has taken any of our patients.<>>>It?s like another world here compared to the other hospitals. They have imaging... my God, they have machines here, operating theatres, ventilators, monitoring, it?s just amazing.<<<
    Of any American field hospital, there is apparently not yet any sign. The reporter observes that the Israelis have come from the other side of the world.

  • saltybob saltybob

    19 Jan 2010, 5:07PM

    what people seem to forget aid workers must have protection if they are to succeed, on top of hungry people looking for food and water, you have gangs on the loose escaped prisoners who wont think twice of killing. What about these towns outside port au prince which have been hit, nobody seems to be interested in them, looking for survivors will most probably stop soon, and start concentrating on rebuilding the capital, with the state of these old colonial buildings maybe the best thing to do would be to bulldoze the whole lot to the ground and start again, i was in haiti in 1970 and again in 1972, when both pappa and son doc ran the country it was corrupt then sadly prior to the earthquke it was still corrupt, and i dare say 20 years down the line it will still be corrupt. i went to many countries on the west coast of africe in the seventies they were poor and corrupt and some of them still are, no money for food but can always manage to buy weapons, and this nonsense that cruise ships contribute to haiti's economy, by employing a hand full of haitians at these ports no doubt get paid a pathetic miserable wage, yes dream on cruise companies you're there to make money, do they really care that 60 miles down the road people are fighting for their lives to survive, while hundreds are lying on the beach throwing food and drink down their throats like nobody's business, i don't think so, welcome to the real world

  • notinuse notinuse

    19 Jan 2010, 5:26PM

    Acting upon the directives of President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and close follow-up from General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) has given orders to implement this initiative to airlift humanitarian aid to Republic of Haiti.

    Dated January 14, 2010

  • notinuse notinuse

    19 Jan 2010, 6:06PM

    RI,(Republic of Indoneia) relief for Haiti stranded
    Ricky Yudhistira , The Jakarta Post , Honolulu, Hawaii | Tue, 01/19/2010 6:50 PM | National

    An 81-strong Indonesian humanitarian team has been stranded in Honolulu on its way to the earthquake-devastated Haiti.

    The team arrived in Honolulu at 5:50 p.m. local time Monday (8:50 a.m., Tuesday, Jakarta time), along with 30 tons of humanitarian relief, to hear that they could only enter Haiti on Feb. 7 at the earliest.

    February 7, at the earliest???

  • samilev samilev

    19 Jan 2010, 11:22PM

    I find it truly remarkable that to date there is only an Israeli field hospital operating in Haiti, which more or less came from the other side of the world, yet countries like Britain, France and even the USA still haven't been able to be as resourceful enough as theIsraelis to set up similar facilities.
    No doubt sooner or later someone instead of praising such a small country like Israel who were so well prepared and quick on the scene to help another country in desparate trouble, that their only motive was for political gain only.
    It must be extremely embarassing to know that the only field hospital with the expertise and the facilities ie. equipment etc. at the moment to carry out much needed and intricate surgery is the Israeli field hospital.

  • scrap scrap

    20 Jan 2010, 9:19AM

    @ samilev,

    I'd have thought that this is not the time for patting yourself on the back, and demanding praise from others, but doing what you can to help.

    Yes, I'm aware that Israel is contributing... that's great. Others are helping in their own way. There will be time for recriminations later, if some countries do not pull their weight. Let's not make a cheap political point, eh?

  • samilev samilev

    20 Jan 2010, 10:04AM

    I am certainly not patting myself on the back.
    I am not an israeli nor am I Jewish, as a matter of fact I am an arab who is totally fed up with middle eastern politics.
    All I said was that israel is a tiny country who was one of the first on the scene to help and help they certainly did which should be a credit to them and not abuse from you.
    Saudi arabia on the other hand is an extremely rich country and all they managed to send was a condolence letter to Haiti.

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