Evacuations Resume of Critical Haitian Patients

The U.S. government announced on Sunday that they will resume the evacuation of critically ill earthquake victims in Haiti after postponing the practice for five days.

Patients who cannot be properly attended to under strained on-site medical conditions will be flown to centers in Florida and other countries, officials reported.

"Patients are being identified for transfer, doctors are making sure that it is safe for them to fly, and we are preparing specific in-flight pediatric care aboard the aircraft where needed," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor in a statement.

Vietor reported that nearly 23,000 patients have been attended to by U.S. personnel since the Jan. 12 quake, which claimed almost 200,000 lives and affected a third of the Haitian population.

On-site relief efforts have continued to face resistance nearly three weeks after the tragic event.

Sheyla Durandisse, a member of international relief agency Action By Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, expressed her grief as efforts to distribute food and goods were stopped due to disruption by a group of young men.

"Yes, it's complicated," she said of the relief effort. "There is a lot of pressure on the team."

Sylvia Raulo, country representative for the Lutheran World Federation, shared similar sentiments saying, "People are traumatized, and we know how people can react in these types of situations."

Raulo noted that in spite of such challenges the, "Haitians are an extremely resilient people."

Meanwhile, plans for Haiti's long-term recovery continue to formulate, with officials setting their sights on rebuilding the nation's capital in a different location away from earthquake fault lines.

"While the international community begins the long road to coordination and collaboration of assistance, daily life in Haiti will require a secure and stable environment if the tasks of rebuilding the nation are to happen," Johanna Mendelson Forman, senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told Reuters.

Forman said a "big win" for Haiti would be to "decentralize" the country, setting up businesses and jobs outside of Port-au-Prince and ensuring safe and adequate infrastructure around the country.

Haitian President Rene Preval agreed with such plans, noting that, prior to the earthquake, nearly 2 million people had lived in the city of Port-au-Prince, which only had infrastructure suitable for 200,000.

Preval also noted that as recovery efforts develop, a degree of normalcy has been restored to Haitian's daily lives.

"Gas stations are working normally, commercial activities have resumed ... A lot of progress has been made," Preval told Reuters.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News