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Monday, January 03, 2005

A Plea to the UN: Flow Relief Supplies from the Sea

In today's Wall Street Journal: "In Sri Lana, there are reports of food shortages among survivors due to the poor condiitons of the roads and a shortage of vehicles. 'We have tons of food. We are, In fact, innundated,' World Food Program spokeswoman Selvi Sachithanandam told the Associated Press. The problem, she said, was a 'lack of channels: to deliver relief to outlying areas.'"

Except for the ocean, that great highway of mankind.

Start sending relief supplies on the water to the beach front areas devastated by the tidal waves.

Don't wait for big ships - the seas around the area teem with small vessels capable of carrying a truck load or so of material to some remote spot otherwise unreachable by land and incapable of being resupplied effectively from the air. Borrow some LSTs or other amphibious ships and set up "logistics over the shore." Spend some of tht $2+billion if you have to, but get a move on. People are dying while you you wait for "channels."

Update: Outside the Beltline posts a Washington Post article containing the following:
U.N. relief officials warned Monday that tens of thousands of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in South Asia have not received help and that some are dying because ruined roads and bad communications are preventing the distribution of supplies.
International relief groups have delivered only one-eighth of the 400,000 tons of food flown into affected parts of Indonesia, said Michael Elmquist, chief of the U.N. office coordinating the rescue effort in the country. He said the delivery of lifesaving food and medicine has been slowed by impassable highways, severed telecommunications and airports unable to accommodate enough relief flights. "I have witnessed a build-up of aid on a scale that has never happened before," Elmquist said. "This effort has been hampered very seriously."
Let me spell it out again: These are island chains and beaches. There is an ocean on which to transport supplies. Use ships and not roads.

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