Civil Affairs Teams Help Displaced Haitians
By Navy Lt. Arlo Abrahamson
Special to American Forces Press Service
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Feb. 19, 2010 Members of a U.S. special operations civil affairs team visited a sprawling tent city here yesterday as part of an effort to assess conditions in the camp and better align the delivery of food and medical aid.
Civil affairs soldiers from U.S. Army Special Operations Command speak with children living in a tent city in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 18, 2010. The civil affairs team assesses medical, shelter, food and water needs to facilitate humanitarian assistance in the area. U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Victoria Brayton
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Civil affairs teams attached to the 82nd Airborne Division have been partnering with nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations and other relief agencies to ensure vital aid is being delivered to the people who are most in need.
“The assessments we make at this camp will be sent to other agencies and [organizations] who provide relief to the displaced people living here,” said the leader of one team operating in the area, who asked not to be identified because he serves in special operations. “The reports we produce help keep these relief organizations better informed about the actual needs of the people.”
Civil affairs specialists said their assessments in the camp are concentrated on community governance, medical conditions and security.
“It’s important for us to actually go in these camps and get direct feedback from the people,” the team leader said. “We find out there are things they do quite well as a community, despite the circumstances they’re in, while in other areas they may need more assistance.”
On any given day, that assistance may vary. A combat medic assigned to the team provided medical care to a Haitian girl who had fallen ill.
“I’m here to do medical assessments, but there’s a point where you just have to help people when you see a need,” the medic said. “It was a small gesture, but we did our part to make conditions better for people in this camp today.”
(Navy Lt. Arlo Abrahamson serves in the Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command public affairs office.)