U.S. military assesses outlying support network in Haiti
February 26, 2010
JEREMIE, Haiti (Feb. 26, 2010) -- The deputy commanding general of Joint Task Force-Haiti met with local non-governmental organizations and a U.S. Army civil affairs team during a visit to discuss the needs of communities outside the nation's capital Feb. 23.
"One of the secondary effects of the earthquake is that people who lived in the large cities, like Port-au-Prince, are moving in with their families who live in the outlying communities," said Maj. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, deputy commanding general, JTF-H.
The coastal city of Jeremie, in contrast to the urban life of Port-au-Prince, is alive and bathed in sunny pastel colors, deep greens, and that special blend of azur that seems only to appear in the Caribbean Sea. School children, walking home during the afternoon lunch break, are dressed in an assortment of brightly-colored school uniforms and there are noisy parrots squawking in the forests of palm trees.
A civil affairs team from the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, has been in Jeremie assessing the support network, determining whether or not it is adequate to meet the needs of the growing community.
The move from Port-au-Prince "has benefitted the people in the short term, but in the long term you have to make sure that there are support networks in place, so that the increased population in communities like Jeremie will be taken care of," said Allyn. "Our team here is working with NGOs and with the United Nations security forces to ensure that networks are connected."
The civil affairs team is speaking with the local leaders and the local security forces - both the Haitian National Police and the United Nations forces. The team is also working with the NGOs that have been taking care of the population and then they will determine whether or not the systems are sustainable in the long term.
"We try to identify any potential issues down the road," said Allyn. "That assessment process is underway and we will make sure that we bring this information back to Port-au-Prince, to ensure that there is a sustainable system here."
Jeremie, on the inside of the southwestern coast of Haiti, derives most of its income from fishing and shipping. The economy here appears to not have been directly effected by the earthquake and most of the systems in the village appear to be functioning close to normal.
"My sensing is, from talking with the local NGOs, is that while Jeremie does have a bloated population - they are not facing an imminent crisis," said Allyn. "It is important to note though, that the people are drawing upon their food reserves and if we don't reinforce their network, they will have a problem in the future."
"We will continue to work with local leadership, the U.N., NGOs, and the people to ensure that there is a collaborative approach to taking care of the sudden influx of population," said Allyn. "We will finish our assessment and make sure that the community has a self-sustaining network in place, that will be kept going after we are gone."