In an interview With Greta van Susteren of Fox News, Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton said US had to get permission from Haiti government to bring in US military to open the airport and help with rescue efforts.
Secretary Clinton said the airport runway, while small, was not damaged in the earthquake. She said there are 30 search-and-rescue teams. There are six American teams and the others are from all over the world.
There are approximately 30 search-and-rescue teams operating, six of which are American and the others are from all over the world.
The US received permission from Haiti’s government to bring in the US military to open the airport and help with rescue efforts.
The current priorities are:
- to get necessities to the people who are living
- to clear the streets of corpses
- to begin restoring electricity, transportation, telecommunications
Here are relevant parts of the transcript of Hillary Rodham Clinton being interviewed by Greta van Susteren of Fox News, courtesy of the Department of State.
Greta van Susteren: What is the state of their government to even help us because they’ve been hit hard?
Secretary Clinton: They’ve been hit very hard. But we just had an excellent meeting with the president and the prime minister. And they were very specific about what they’re trying to achieve. Clearly, their highest obligation is to get necessities to the people who are living, to clear the streets of the corpses – that is a very tragic job that has to be done – and to begin working on the electricity, the transportation, the telecommunications, the nuts and bolts of how they get up and going again.
Greta van Susteren: We’ve hit the ground pretty hard – the United States. You’re down here just a couple days after this happened. How long can we sustain this, and are we getting help from other foreign governments, and how are you coordinating that so that we can collectively make this work out?
Secretary Clinton: We are getting an outpouring of help. First and foremost, the United Nations, despite suffering their own horrific losses, are here, are getting stood up. You saw a lot of the trucks, the UN trucks. We have a great group of other countries in our hemisphere and beyond. We’re beginning to meet, and I’ve talked with many of my counterparts, our foreign ministers, around the world. So there’s going to be an international effort. The key is coordinating it, and to make sure that we’re each doing what we can do best. There isn’t anybody who could have gotten this airport open and up and running besides the United States military in the time that we did it. We’re going to be looking at the port to make sure that we can take whatever information and expertise we have and try to get that port up and going.
So the teams that are here, there are, I think, 30 search-and-rescue teams. Six of those are Americans. The others are from all over the world. Everybody’s been saving lives. It’s really heartwarming. And I mean, from my perspective, what the world is doing on behalf of this terrible tragedy is a great tribute to us.
Greta van Susteren: I don’t think people realize that we actually had to get permission. We had to work something out.
Secretary Clinton: Well, we’re here as a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission. That’s what the United States military is here for. They’re here, as we all are, at the invitation of the Haitian Government that knows that they need help. And this airport’s a perfect example. There’s only one runway. This is not ideal. Thank goodness it was not damaged. If the earthquake had knocked this runway out, I don’t know where we would be in terms of trying to help.
So we went to the Haitian Government, we said we were ready to help, they asked for our help, we negotiated an agreement so that the United States military could get it open and begin to prioritize the flights in and out. Because as you can tell, it’s a small airport but we’ve made it very busy and we’ve got to be sure people are safe coming in and out.
Greta van Susteren: So we’ve got all these flying cargo coming in. … We’re shipping it out into the country. But the things like hospitals, and we’d really like to help in the hospitals. Does the United States have to work out agreements there? Is there any sort of resistance? If we could, if we can help in those hospitals, but we’re hearing horrible stories there.
Secretary Clinton: No. The Haitians have said we need all the help we can get. It’s a question of getting to where the help is needed, setting up a facility, making sure it’s well staffed and well equipped. There are military hospitals by a number of countries being set up around the affected area. There will have to be more. We’re also trying to resupply and support the Haitian hospitals that are still operating. I just got, before I got on the plane this morning, an email from Dr. Paul Farmer, who you know has a long history here in Haiti in Partners in Health, which he was one of the founders of. He’s got a team working in one of the hospitals, giving me a report. So it’s all hands on deck. Everybody in our government and all these other governments is doing our best.
Greta van Susteren: What’s with the U.S. Embassy?
Secretary Clinton: Well, our ambassador is the chief of mission. Everybody in country is reporting to him. He’s coordinating the civilian and the military assistance. General Keen, who is the military commander on the ground, works closely with our ambassador. Our ambassador negotiated the agreement with the Haitian Government to get this airport open and have our folks help to prioritize. So literally, there is more work than any human being can do in a 24-hour period, but everybody’s working hard. What we want to do is make sure we’re prioritizing and we’re coordinated, and that’s my goal.