Army civil affairs teams continue to assist NGOs as capabilities improve
February 26, 2010
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - A U.S. Army civil affairs team along with Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne division partnered with the non-governmental organization "Tzu-Chi" to help facilitate the delivery of blankets and shelter for more than 2000 citizens in Port-au-Prince Feb 26 during a humanitarian aid distribution operation.
The U.S. military has been assisting NGOs, the U.N., and other agencies with the delivery of humanitarian aid, but coordination efforts continue to improve and civil affairs teams are seeing their roles diminish as infrastructure gains strength.
"We are here to help facilitate in this distribution, but this NGO has a very organized method of delivery, so everything pretty much runs by itself," said Staff Sgt. Hansel, a civil affairs team sergeant. "We are seeing more of this every day when we go out. The NGOs are making better partnerships with the people."
Frank Chen, an NGO member from Maryland, made the trip to Haiti last week and said he was appreciative of the role U.S. service members were making in the country.
"We're all here to serve and help people," said Chen. "I'm glad we were able to partner with the U.S. military for this operation. I think we can learn a little bit from each other about helping the people of Haiti."
Civil affairs team leader, Capt. Mike, said the relationship with the NGO "Tzu-Chi" is typical of the partnerships that are built between the U.S. military and relief organizations in Haiti.
"We fill in where we can to assist them, but then we step back and let them lead the effort," said Capt. Mike. "These organizations are becoming more capable, and they are increasingly helping more people, and that's going to make an impact on the long term."
Making an impact is exactly why NGO member Sean Lee came to Haiti.
"Everyone here makes an impact," said Lee. "I believe we are all making a difference for people in Haiti by doing the things we're doing here today."