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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-01-18

“We will not give up. We will dig for as long as it takes.”

INTERNATIONAL PRESS REVIEW (Monday, 18th January 2010): The front page of British paper, “The Independent” is indicative of much of this morning’s press coverage. Time has already run out for most of those buried under the rubble.

This quote is from a rescuer in the Canapé Vert neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. He tells The Independent’s Guy Adams,

“When we stop digging or making a noise she screams. She’s terrified we will give up and walk away.”

The Government now places the death toll at at least 100,000. Some 2 million people are in need of emergency relief.

Adams also speaks about the towns around Port-au-Prince where no aid has arrived at all. In Léogane, 18 miles away, 90% of the buildings were leveled. In Petit Goâve nearby – there’s no aid at all. A Save The Children worker told journalists about the crying of those trapped in buildings having stopped. The equipment wasn’t there to dig people out.

The Independent also looks at how small aid agencies play a vital role. Paddy Maguinness, the deputy chief executive of Concern, an Irish aid agency, is preparing to fly to Haiti to help the Irish mobile phone company Digicel to get up and running. Digicel provides vital mobile phone service to millions of poor Haitians.

Speaking from Kingston in Jamaica he said, “I don’t need to go to Haiti to know what its like. I can smell it from here. Those kinds of scenes are emblazoned on my brain.”

He says the key for small aid agencies is to start small and employ locals as much as possible, so that you know from their responses that what you’re doing is useful.

The main photo on the Guardian’s front page shows bodies waiting to be dealt with at the Grande Cimetière in Port-au-Prince.Relatives have apparently been charged hundreds of dollars to avoid having their loved ones buried in mass graves. The smell is bad – but the sights are even worse, says Ed Pilkington who is there.

Sixty miles away, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jet ski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks. The decision to go ahead by a Florida-based cruise company divided passengers. However, the ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians.

In the International Herald Tribune, there’s an op-ed on eight ways to rebuild Haiti. From ensuring that concrete structures are better build in the future to allowing for give and take in settling disputes and enforcing contracts, it gives a break-down of what the priorities for rebuilding should be.

Obviously in these conditions, squatting is not a crime, scavenging is not wrong… Not all theft is criminal.

Another piece of advice is to use Guantanamo Bay as a refugee camp.The base has two airfields, a state of the art communication system and brand new water and sewage lines that could accommodate as many as 45,000 refugees.

Libération’s editorial is entitled, “Humanity”. We must be careful not to be condescending, says the paper. Expressions such as “the poorest country in the world”, “pillaging” and “rioting” are becoming all too common.

In such circumstances, the paper notes, “pillaging” is essential to survival.

“For five days now Haitians have been going through hell. In so many cases they have demonstrated their humanity, a noble image… They have nothing but they have courage.”

Libération refers to an earthquake in Lisbon in 1775 that “shook up European philosophy.” Voltaire pitted himself against theologians, saying the earthquake demonstrated the absence of God and the arbitrary nature of evil. The paper concludes, “The Haitian earthquake doesn’t tell us much about God. It does allow us to not despair too much though for mankind.”

 

By James CREEDON

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