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A country devastated & S'poreans should care. Ravi Philemon.

Deep sympathy and solidarity with the people of Haiti

Picture from Associated Press here.

Ravi Philemon

The Haiti earthquake is probably one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in the Americas.  Over 100,000 people are feared dead. What may be even worse is that over 3 million are in need of immediate aid.

The 42nd President of the United States of America and the United Nations’ Special Envoy to Haiti Mr Bill Clinton writes, “We must care for the injured, take care of the dead, and sustain those who are homeless, jobless and hungry”.

Death can be seen everywhere in the capital of Haiti – Port-au-Prince.  It is heart-wrenching to see bodies of little children laid in piles next to the ruins of their collapsed school; to see people roaming the street in a daze with blood covering their faces.

"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," cries President of Hait,  Rene Preval, while pleading for emergency aid to help his country cope with the most devastating earthquake to hit the Caribbean in over 200 years. It struck with a 7.0 magnitude, and was followed by aftershocks registering as high as 5.9 on the richter scale.

Haiti is one of the most impoverished countries in the Caribbean, due to the lack of natural resources, among other things.

This is a chance for Singapore and Singaporeans to rise up and reach out to our fellow human-beings – the Haitians, even though we live thousands of miles apart. We are after all a globalised city and what happens in Haiti, should affect us all here as well.

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This is a time for the government of Singapore to stand with the leaders of the global community to do what we can towards the relief of this natural disaster. It is strange that for more than 24 hours after the incident, neither the Singapore President, nor the Prime Minister, nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore has issued any message of condolence and support for the affected nation. Does this apathy exist because Haiti is too far away from Singapore geographically?

The private corporations should play their roles as responsible global citizens by pledging aid to the people of Haiti.  "What we need in the first few days is to enable the humanitarian workers to do their jobs, to go in and do rescue and recovery... and that take cash”, says Caryl Stem, the President and CEO of US Fund for UNICEF, in urging corporations to support relief efforts by making cash donations.

Postings on the Channel News Asia forum suggest that some Singaporeans are already wanting to give towards disaster relief in Haiti, but they do not know where or to whom they can contribute to.

The Online Citizen called the Singapore Red Cross to see if they are organising any efforts for Haiti disaster relief.  A spokesperson for Singapore Red Cross said that they are not coordinating any disaster relief at the moment for Haiti, but that if any individual or private corporations want to make any donations, they should send a cheque to, ‘Singapore Red Cross Society’ (designate the cheque in the back for Haiti earthquake relief) and mail it to 15 Penang Lane, Singapore 238486.

It is about time the people, the government and the private corporations in Singapore stopped speaking of the natural disaster in Haiti as a news item, and start sympathising deeply and stand in solidarity with the people in Haiti.

We are all citizens of this world after all!