Nepal - Haiti: Learning from Haiti

The World Mediation Organization is glad to welcome Mr. Ratindra Kathri, Co. (Rtd.) from the Nepal Army as new District Manager in Bharatpur, Nepal. His expertise in international conflict and crisis management is highly beneficial for further professionalism in the WMO team of experts.

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Enclosed you may find an extensive report about his activities in Haiti. He encourages the reader and any person in question to transfer his experiences towards other areas of complex crisis situations, specially Nepal.

Following you may find the first of eight interview sections:

"1) Can you describe your experience in Haiti when the earthquake struck?

Well, I was deployed to Haiti 1 and a half months before the catastrophic earthquake in January 2010. I was deployed in the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as a Chief Military Per- sonnel Officer of Force Headquarters and Na- tional Contingent Commander of Nepalese UN Peacekeeping troops in Haiti. But my role in Haiti changed drastically when the earthquake struck at 16:53 local time. When the earthquake did strike, I was in my vehicle on my way to an anniversary event for a battalion serving in Port-au-Prince. Many of the Nepalese serving in Haiti were quite lucky because they attended this event which was held in a flat open area.

I felt my vehicle jump and thought a tire went out but then I saw the flagpole shaking violently from side to side and I knew then it was an earthquake. It lasted for 35 seconds but it felt like an eternity. The shaking was so violent it was impossible to move or run during those 35 seconds. Immediately following the earthquake, I looked over Port-au-Prince and I could only see dust rising and I knew then we had suffered something devastating.

The earthquake came to us as a surprise be- cause we did not perceive that there was an earthquake risk in Haiti. We had contingency plans for other disasters like hurricanes, floods and landslides but not for earthquakes. The ini- tial days after the earthquake were an absolute nightmare. The sights were unbelievable. Every- where I looked, there was debris and dead bod- ies; it was truly a nightmare. It was also a very chaotic period because we did not have a plan in place to respond. But that night, we regrouped, established a tem- porary headquarters and started our own rescue operations." 

Read the complete article by clicking here!

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