Why Is It so Difficult for Countries to Accept Aid

Former President George W Bush thanks Mexican Marine after Katrina

Analysis by Reporting San Diego

August 31, 2017 (San Diego) Why is it that countries have trouble accepting international aid? This is not exclusive to the United States, but this is the second time that countries are sending help to the United States. Whether it is Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Venezuela, the European Union, that is currently mapping the damage for NASA. it does not matter. The list will grow. Exactly like it did during Katrina.

Countries, and their citizens, at least a good portion, have this belief that accepting help from other countries betrays weakness.

Anybody who has worked disasters knows that aid has no borders. Those who are rescued do not care what flag is on the shoulder of a rescuer. Or if the helicopter says Rescue or Rescate. They don’t care. At that moment any shelter in the storm will be welcomed. 

National leaders though, have issues accepting that help. They know that the optics might make them look weak. This is the worst fear for many politicians. In this particular case there are other complications. 

President Donald Trump ran on how Mexico sends their worst to the United States. He has yet to accept the help from Mexico. However, it is clear that the Department of State, though the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has accepted it, and Governor Gregg Abbott will take it. 

This, and the photos of the Mexican Navy and Army helping during Katrina, and now, will make it harder to sell the wall to people who were just aided by Mexican rescue personnel. Whether they are Red Cross volunteers, or firefighters, or other assets coming in, it will make it politically harder to paint Mexicans in the worst of ways possible.

There is another aspect to this. Trump still wants a wall, One that may not survive. The wall is expected to run close to $12 Billion dollars. The storm is expected to cost over $100 billion. These are early estimates. We have yet to have a final assessment of the cost of the storm. This does not take into account long term costs to the economy. This is not just the local economy. This will affect the national economy. 

The president was also threatening to shut down the government to get this wall. The cost of shutting down the government is expected to be higher than the $12 billon. This is according to Bloomberg. This means one simple thing. Politically that wall will not be palatable for most Americans, who will be far more concerned with rebuilding a large city, getting the economy going, and perhaps even, thanking their neighbors. 

Whenever there is a disaster, remember the rescuers can use more assets. Political leaders are not happy to always get it. There is a pattern to this. Thankfully resistance to this help from abroad, did not take as long to give as it did with Katrina. That difference could be a life or dead matter for people. 

Now this is the critical phase. In reality, due to the infrastructure that has been damaged, means that help may be needed for a longer term. 

This brings me to one thing that has been floated from time to time. The United Nations has the blue helmets. In the age of climate change, when Katrina and Sandy, and Harvey are becoming the new normal, we might need an internal rescue response force. This means that this force will be put on alert and on transports as soon as an area, anywhere in the world, is badly hit. They would need military assets for logistical lift. These assets include things like C-130s. Also, while rescue teams around the world have adopted the incident command system, having teams who have drilled together and worked together deploy together will make it easier in the field. 

The World Health Organization has a registry for medical teams already. We saw this kind of coordination start with the Ebola outbreak of 2013. We might need to have this registry for swift water rescue, confined space and Urban Search and Rescue as well. 

Categories: Analysis, disaster, WHO, Harvey, Foreign Aid

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: