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January 20, 2010

HAITI RELIEF? Soldiers told to stop handing out food. “Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be distributing the packages. It was not known whether the action reflected a high-level policy decision at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or confusion in a city where dozens of entities are involved in aid efforts.”

UPDATE: A reader emails that this is common:

The “aid” agencies did the same thing in Afghanistan. Being a logistics specialist, I volunteered to help an American NGO with rebuilding schools, and was on the ground in Kabul in January of ’02. (I later ended up in charge of UNICEF’s warehouse/distribution operation for all of the new school supplies…leaving me with a complete and total disdain for all things UN-related.)

For the NGO community, to be seen co-operating with the US military was the kiss of death. NGO co-ordination meetings specifically warned against co-operation with the US military, as opposed to UN agencies. The supposed reason was that they wanted a clear line between the “killers” and those that were “there to help”. They would actually COMPLAIN that the military was out doing things like rehabilitating wells and such, whining that these were things that should be left to the aid agencies. The irony of the fact that we were all sitting in a meeting, DISCUSSING it, while the US military had already been out DOING it, was completely lost on them.

Sounds like it’s same-old, same-old. Nothing but tools, the lot of them.

Sounds rather unimpressive.

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