Unitarian Universalists respond to earthquake devastation.
United Nations officials in Haiti believe the earthquake may have killed tens of thousands of people and injured thousands more. It destroyed many major buildings, including the presidential palace and the United Nations peacekeeping headquarters in the city. The UN presence was established after a coup and a rebellion in 2004.
Dick Campbell, the UUSC’s media and public affairs coordinator, noted that Haiti was in a humanitarian crisis even before the earthquake, because of political corruption and widespread extreme poverty. “When we heard the first news reports and the enormity of the disaster became clear, then we knew we had to respond,” he said.
Campbell said the UUSC would work in support of partner organizations that it had not yet identified, but would probably not itself be on the ground in Haiti. He said the UUSC did work in Haiti from the 1950s into the 1980s, but does not currently have any projects there. He said details of how the money will be used by the UUSC will appear on the website when they are determined.
A report prepared by the UUSC this week notes that even before the quake Haiti had little capacity to respond to emergencies. In August and September Haiti was battered by four hurricanes. Eighty percent of Haiti’s 8 million people live in poverty, according to the UUSC.
Campbell said the UUSC/UUA relief fund would likely go to help those “who are the least likely to have access to aid, those who are at greatest risk of being overlooked. People in Haiti are among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere,” he said.
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.