Haiti

Normally I try to write about local issues but I feel I must comment on the disaster in Haiti.   200,000 people may have been killed by the earthquake and 1.5 million people left homeless.

Many of us will have found the reports and images of the suffering distressing.  We take for granted that if an incident occurs in our own country, people are rescued and then treated in hospital.  It is awful to contemplate that in Haiti victims have been trapped for days, and that even if they reached hospital they may not be treated through lack of medical staff and drugs.

Incredibly, a few survivors were still being pulled from the rubble this week, the search aided by a team of firefighters from West Sussex who arrived on Sunday.  But the operation will rapidly move from rescue to recovery as the chance of finding people alive diminishes.

Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been set back decades by this disaster and will need all the help it can get from the international community just to survive, let alone recover and begin to give its people hope for the future.

Food, shelter and medicine is urgently needed.  But it can only be delivered with proper co-ordination of the relief effort.  So there is understandable frustration about the amount of time it is taking to get essential supplies through.

Britain is helping, but it's not just about what governments do.  I'm often struck by how generous people in this country are.  After the Boxing Day Tsunami five years ago the British public donated a staggering £350 million.

For those readers who feel, as I do, that we must help, the Disasters Emergency Committee is apparently the best means, as the money is given to aid agencies to direct help to where it's most needed.

If you would like to donate to the DEC appeal, ring 0370 60 60 900 or visit http://www.dec.org.uk/.  Thank you

Michelle Taylor