Comments on Swedish Aid to Haiti

As emergency relief operations continue in earthquake-stricken Haiti, Swedes continue to analyze how assistance from Nordic nation can best be used and how much has been learned from earlier catastrophes.

The Swedish branch of Doctors without Borders, the Swedish Red Cross, Save the children, the Swedish Church, private initiatives and others continue to collect funds for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Finn Norgren – the head of the Swedish Radio's catastrophe fund collected from listeners – tells Radio Sweden that the policy is to support Swedish organizations already on the scene in that Caribbean nation:

He says that he and others have learned from the tsunami disaster in southeast Asia five years ago that this local knowledge is essential. and that then major doners made huge mistakes by pumping in large amounts of money without knowing really how it should be used:

Norgen adds that Swedish organizations will now be applying for grants from the radio fund for long-term work which is the main priority.

He also insists that work over recent years has confirmed that even small amounts of money can be very important - and can have applications even years after a disaster such as the tsunami.

The Swede admits that many would-be doners to his fund are sometimes suspicious of giving money to a nation like Burma - fearing that the military regime won't allow the aid to reach the people .. and that there is a danger that people get tired of the same crisis coming up constantly in the news .. that it's especially difficult to raise funds for Gaza or Darfur or other places where there is no clear evidence that there is a political will to end the crises.

The head of the Swedish Radio's relief fund concludes that an earthquake is a concrete reality without the political controversies scaring off would-be doners among radio listeners.

Also speaking to Radio Sweden, former Swedish foreign minister and diplomat at the United Nations, Jan Eliasson describes the difficulties for Sweden and others involved in emergency aid and long-term assistance and points to the need for both the UN and the European Union to co-ordinate such efforts.

This report was made with the assistance of Radio Sweden's Olgica Lindquist and Göran Löwing.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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