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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

US Aid Effort Disorganized, Undermining UN

Jan Egeland, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told us "The US relief effort is uncoordinated and disorganized. All they're doing is handing out food and medicine. They aren't even having meetings. Sometimes the aid goes where it is not needed, there is so much.

"First of all, the US and the Australians were the first here, within 24 hours even. How could they possibly have known who needed aid on such short notice? The answer? They could not. Their aid went willy nilly to anyone, who knows who. Their president did not even make a speech first, they just started dumping aid. How can a country give aid without making a speech, and then holding coordination meetings?

"The President waited several days before making a speech, showing how he does not care. Kofi Annan did not make a speech until after the US President, once he had seen how the US and Australians were making a mockery of aid. He wisely took over to lead the way in aid.

"We began our coordination, meeting with other coordinators. Even after a week, we were still holding coordination meetings. Yet the entire time the US and Australia kept dumping their own version of aid on God knows who, we sure don't they did not bother to ask us first. They call that disaster relief? Ha!

"And then, Bush had the audacity to announce his own coordination with the few countries who were already providing aid. Can you believe the arrogance? First those countries rush into areas giving aid willy nilly, sometimes to the wrong people, without any coordination meetings at all. Then they think they can continue to do so without the UN to coordinate!

"We, the civilians of the UN, must be the ones to coordinate aid. The US military has no experience in disaster relief, they don't even like helping others. Look at them, they send an aircraft carrier! What good can can an aircraft carrier do?"

We went to the various aid agencies to find out what was going on, and why the US was undermining the UN.

"We have been buying toys for the kids from the shops on board our carrier," said Yeoman Arellano, "and our helicopters have been flying hundreds of sorties per day. The carrier can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water per day. Most of us are barely getting any sleep, we are all working round the clock to help. We've been working with the Australian navy, with help from Japan and India, to get the most help out there that we possibly can."

"Toys? Ha!" Egeland responded when we showed him some of our interviews, "children cannot eat toys! You see these ridiculous Americans? We flew in Carol Bellamy, to coordinate the coordinators. Without proper coordination, the aid is wasted. If only the US would submit to the UN's moral authority, if only they waited to send the aid for a week until after the UN had it's coordination meetings, more people could have been saved.

"Now that we have this horrible tragedy, this is the perfect time to use this as a political opportunity to make the United States look bad. As God is my witness, these hundreds of thousands of people will not die in vain!"