Since my post yesterday, the level of devastation in Chile has become more apparent and the Government has requested urgent assistance from abroad. Although the death toll does not appear likely to rise to anything close to that of Haiti, the level of displacement – two million people – is staggering.
In a sad irony, the NY Times reports that Chile’s response to its own earthquake may have been slowed down for want of tents and other humanitarian goods it earlier sent to Haiti. On an HLP-relevant note, the Times also notes that although the general standard of preparedness and infrastructure is much higher in Chile than it was in Haiti, the disproportionate vulnerability of the poor remains a constant:
The quake has also exposed the fact, experts say, that although Chile is one of the most developed countries in the region, it is also one of the most unequal, with huge pockets of urban and rural poor, who suffered most in the quake.
Here in Europe, the EU’s embattled new foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has confirmed a pledge of 3 million Euro to assist quake victims in Chile. That was yesterday and today Ashton departed for a (for many observers, long overdue) trip to Haiti, noting before her departure that (this time), she was ready to visit Chile as soon as necessary. All this as the EU Commission gears up to help the victims of a severe storm that tore through western Europe in the last days, killing 51 people and flooding large areas, particularly in France.