Saturday, 16 January 2010

Numbers Don't say Enough




Bodies collected

100,000 - 200,000

Suspected dead

2 million

Children affected

They're striking statistics, but they don't tell you anything about the shock and fear as the earthquake struck Port au Prince on Tuesday 12th January. They don't describe the ongoing situation with more bodies being turned up every day, people sleeping on the streets or in tents. People too afraid to leave incase their loved ones turn up.


Weeks until the wet season begins

Amongst the rest, this might seem like an unimportant fact. As soon as the wet season begins, the diseases endemic to the area, which have already been exacerbated by this disaster, have the capacity to spread out of control. Survivors, particularly the children, will have to run the gauntlet of malaria, hepatitis A and E, pneumonia, typhoid fever, japanese encephalitis..the list goes on. Bodies are being piled into mass graves or onto bonfires partly to try and cushion the almost unavoidable impact these diseases will have, particularly towards the epicentre which is proving hard to reach.


Aid pledged so far


UN Troops and police


US Troops


Tonnes of relief supplies


Lorry loads of bottled water from the Dominican Republic


UN food distribution points


International rescue teams

But these numbers don't reflect the logistical nightmare that the aid effort is facing in Haiti. Haiti is the 4th poorest nation in the world, and as such, 80% or the population of Port-au-Prince lives in poorly constructed shanty towns. Even in the city, none of the buildings were constructed to withstand an is illustrated by the destruction of the Presidential palace, and the UN Headquarters.

Roads are blocked, the port is badly damaged, and the airport is struggling to cope with the influx of international traffic, some aircraft filled with aid staff and supplies have already been turned away.

Getting aid to the country is a relatively easy job, but distributing it to the people who actually need it, despite every effort being made, is happening more slowly than we would like.


Prisoners unaccounted for


Arrests made


US troops earmarked for saving lives that might have to be seconded for security

As if death, injury, disease and malnutrition weren't enough, the survivors of the disaster are now suffering at the hands of armed gangs who are trying to loot those houses that remain standing, stealing money and property.

So those are just some of the numbers, that's the situation somewhat condensed down into little digestible factoids, but all you have to do is read the papers, surf the internet or watch the television to realise that this doesn't go even part way towards describing what those people are going through, and what their families here and across the world must be feeling.

One final number:


Text 'GIVE' to this number to donate £5 to the Haiti Earthquake appeal.

£5 plus normal SMS charge will be added to your bill

Thanks, and my heart goes out to everyone affected and involved.

Information care of BBC News

British Red Cross

Medecins Sans Frontieres


  1. Well, in light of your previous comment on my post - I'd say you tackled it pretty-damned-well yourself.

  2. Hope you don't mind if I add a couple more numbers which go some of the way for explaining the lack of infrastructure in Haiti to deal with such a disaster: $47 billion - the amount Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase combined have set aside for bonuses; $7 billion - Haiti's annual gross domestic product in nominal terms

  3. That's horrific! Incredible and horrific...

    Please feel free to add as many stats as you like Shane, and I'd extend the invite to anyone else who happens across this post.

    Thanks guys