Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
Freelance writer, editor, and first citizen of Judy's World.

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JANUARY 20, 2010 1:27PM

Africa rushes aid to stricken Haiti

Rate: 1 Flag

 leogane haiti 
The remains of the town of Léogane, at the
epicenter of the Haitian earthquake


Most people usually think of Africa solely as a recipient of foreign aid, but several African nations have reached deep into their pockets and pledged contributions to the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.

South Africa has announced a three-stage relief package, deploying doctors in a search and rescue team, a team of forensic pathologists to try to identify bodies, and providing humanitarian aid together with several South African NGOs. Morocco is dispatching $1 million in aid and several airplanes full of relief materials. Nigeria already has a 121-member police force in Haiti serving with the UN mission there and is working closely with other aid agencies. Several smaller African states are also sending assistance. Liberia, already one of the world's poorest nations, is making a donation of $50,000. Rwanda has promised $100,000 in aid.  

The most sweeping offer came from President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who has pledged free land in his nation to Haitians who wish to be “repatriated” in Africa. His spokesman told the press: "Senegal is ready to offer them parcels of land - even an entire region. It all depends on how many Haitians come. If it's just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region." Many Haitians are descended from Africans who originally lived in the territory of what is today Senegal.

In the meantime, Senegalese singer and songwriter Coumba Gawlo Seck has proposed that some of the continent's top musicians should join together and produce a music track whose proceeds could then be earmarked for relief purposes in Haiti. She has proposed a concert that would take place in Senegal some time in February. The artists could include Ivorian star, Alpha Blondy, the Malian singer Oumou Sangare, Congolese star Papa Wemba, and many others. Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour is teaming up with Charles Aznavour and other Francophone artists to create a music video entitled “Un Geste pour Haiti Cherie” (“A Gesture for Dear Haiti”).

Coumba Gawlo Seck

Grand gestures of solidarity and generosity are common after disasters like the one in Haiti. And yet, it's easy to be magnanimous when everyone else is too. The trick lies in maintaining this solidarity after the TV cameras have been packed away and set up for the next disaster. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that the current outpouring of assistance for Haiti, and the international cooperation it has given birth to, can be sustained longer than the current news cycle.

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