Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Simple Haiti Aid & Rescue Plan


Poet-in-Residence is very angry.

The lessons of New Orleans were not taken on board and therefore the current aid and relief effort in Haiti is not proceeding as smoothly and as well as it should. Throwing charity money at the problem is not the answer. Now read the answer.

There is one resource that areas like the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean have in abundance. That resource is cruise liners. In an emergency a large cruise liner could accommodate 20,000 persons in relative comfort. Ten large cruise liners could accommodate 200,000 persons. The victims of the disaster could be brought to the cruise liners in small boats. The cruise liners are equipped with small boats. These are called lifeboats. They can be used to bring the victims to the ships standing a mile or two offshore.

Cruise liners are equipped like small towns. They have kitchens, water, doctors, lights, electricity, in fact they have everything that is required.

As the victims are being brought on board the cruise liners the emergency services can begin to do their work; dispose of corpses, clear roads, restore electricity, reconnect water supplies, repair hospitals, erect storage facilities, repair and run the airports, the docks and all other essential pieces of infrastructure on land. Whilst this is going on teams of doctors, medical assistants and others can attend to the sick and injured on the cruise liner dedicated to be the hospital ship.

And so there it is. A basic and simple plan. A plan better than the chaos and bottlenecks that are always present at these disaster scenes.

The Poet-in-Residence blog is visited by 50 to 80 readers daily. "It's only a few," as Dylan Thomas said about support for his first poetry pamphlet idea, "but maybe it's the few that matter!"

Poet-in-Residence humbly requests the "few that matter" to promulgate this simple and effective rescue and aid plan in the right direction.

Together we may do some good. It is not yet too late. Today the Doomsday Clock stands at 6 minutes to midnight. Let's turn it back another 2 minutes!

Many thanks.


  1. Shall publish you on my blog this instant - fantastic idea - send it to Obama, Gordon Brown - and most of all to the Cruise liner companies.

  2. This will go on my blog today.

  3. As well as the question of aid, there is the matter of political stability. I would have thought this would matter a great deal to the US and it will matter a great deal to the survivors in the longer term.

    Don't the US Navy have aircraft carriers? They wouldn't need to be commandeered and probably have huge spaces inside (I'm guessing) when not full of aircraft in which living spaces could be erected. People could be helicoptered to and from them.

  4. As we watch in despair at the problems repeating themselves once again and are faced with the organizations who mean well contributing to the problem, we feel helpless...
    If there truly is a solution we have not found it but, I must agree yours has all the right ideas. But how would those people be chosen to be taken to the ships without incident... one has only to remember the US Embassy in Saigon to have observed the peril of the Vietnamese trying desperately to board the helicopters to safety and out of harms way.

  5. Excellent idea (came here from Cait's so you know she is as good as her word)!

  6. I can tell you why the cruise ships will never do this, but you will not like the answer.

    The answer is, these people will steal whatever is not nailed down on a cruise ship.

    Just like they will take down a helicopter and crew if they don't hover instead of landing to distribute supplies.

    Your idea would work perfectly if there were a cruise-ship sized boat that was equipped only for medical aid... but a boat filled with poker chips, lobster, crystal chandeliers, casinos (and money to be won/lost), and suntan lotion will never volunteer to be a floating hospital for people who live well below the poverty level.

    Sad, but true.

  7. Thank you Weaver.

    Thank you Pondside.

    Dominic, an important first point you raised. And also your second idea is good. If large warships such as aircraft carriers have a huge amount of space inside they could also be quickly adapted.

    Miss Maddie, if the scheme was implement from Day 1, and it was promulgated by, for instance, by dropping information leaflets from helicopters there would be very little in the way of panic because the people would know that the ships were on the way and they were going to be looked after.

    her at home, thank you

    ds, thank you

    Marcheline, in the Falklands War the British sent the QEII, their biggest cruise liner, packed with soldiers to a War Zone. It's no problem. Any minor repairs in respect of damage or theft can be attended to after the real emergency is over. In any event I doubt that a single poker chip would stolen. The rest of the people would be only too pleased to hand over any culprits, I believe stolen objects would mysteriously reappear!

  8. Dear all,
    thank you once again for your comments,
    I have e-mailed 'Reporters Without Borders'. Perhaps some influential journalist with the relevant contacts will pick it up. We can but live in hope.

  9. Over from Cait as well - and have tweeted a link....
    Great idea- just hope they could be persuaded. Logistics, I fear would be the excuse - dumping the people already on the cruises....

  10. Exmoorjane, Thanks for your support. I proposed somewhere, on George Szirtes' blog I think, that in future all cruise liner passenger tickets are issued subject to a UN condition of the ship being requisitioned for 'emergency aid use' in event of major natural catastrophe. In that event the passenger would be issued with a voucher for the unused portion of the cruise.

  11. Today, 18th January 2010, in Japan there was a ceremony to remember the victims of the earthquake 15 years ago today in which more than 6,000 died. That 1995 earthquake was Japan's greatest loss of life disaster since the end World War II.

    Haiti is 20 times worse! Maybe even worse than that. In the spring the Japanese will send teams of aid workers to help the orphans.

    The Royal Caribbean's 'Freedom of the Seas' with 15 decks and 4,600 passengers cruising "in double-occupancy" comfort is a very big ship.

  12. BBC World TV News reporting possibility that 10,000 Haitian 'refugees' may go to Guantanamo.

  13. Poet - if, as you say, a cruise ship was previously used for disaster relief, then the powers that be must already be aware of this option, and decided against it for some reason. It sounds really great from our side, but perhaps the owners of the luxury ships are not willing to forego the income afforded them by paying passengers, and to risk bringing infectious diseases on board which would mean having to disinfect the entire ship before it could be used for bringing in revenue again.

    As a former flight attendant who had to stay on board the plane when we stopped in certain countries because the local cleaning crew (who were not starving, not panicked, and not homeless) would steal everything they could otherwise, I can stand by my opinion regarding that.

    And I don't say that in critique of anyone - when one's family and one's self are in danger from loss of home, food, and safety, of course one will take whatever they have to in order to remain alive. It's just basic instinct.

  14. Marcheline,
    I'm sure 'the powers that be' are aware of all the options. And probably you are right in respect of some of the reasons as to why they won't use the ships.
    I think the amount of income is a drop in the ocean compared to the vast amount of money that goes into less deserving pockets, or come to that the cost of weapons of mass destruction.
    As to the disinfection of the ships - they have to be cleaned regularly anyway. Other things like carpets and roulette wheels could be taken away and stored in Guantanamo, Bahamas or Florida in this scenario.
    The cost of this rescue, this act of humanity, should not even be a factor under consideration.
    As an aside, the cost of all the recent bank rescue packages, so far, is $2,000 for every person on the planet.

  15. Well, this may work as a long-term solution during rebuilding, and I think was in fact used in New Orleans. However, it's not a magic wand to expedite the initial response. I think we have learned a great deal since Katrina and it IS being implemented. The fact is it's just damned hard, complicated work to respond quickly to this urgent need. The hard reality is that it takes time. I think it's easy for those of us who are not directly involved to criticize. Yes, there's always room for improvement and lessons learned, but there is no magic answer to circumvent the laws of time and physics. Movies, TV have given us the idea that deploying cruise ships, aircraft carriers, rescue crews, food & water supplies, etc. happen in a matter of minutes. In reality it's not minutes, not hours, but days and weeks.

  16. It is too late for the rescued who lie in wait,(CNN) no medical attention, festering away in great pain. The mobilization that began days ago has not been completed. US doctors are there, but equipment isn't and getting to the victims is terrible...where is the organization? Remember Katrina! What's wrong with us?
    Your idea would be a blessing..who says the first, "let's go"!!

  17. Morag, there is, as you hint, no magic wand but even now I'm sure there are dozens of cruise ships criss-crossing the Caribbean Sea, the Sargasso Sea, the South and Mid-Atlantic Ocean, perhaps some of them are even sailing within sight of the devastated island. Other ships will have recently disembarked their holidaymakers and will be standing in various ports waiting for servicing, refuelling and for the next wave of passengers to board.
    You can turn a ship round in a very few days if you try hard enough and the will is there.

  18. Lyn, you are absolutely right to remember Katrina and ask: "Who says the first 'Let's go!'?"


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