Weekly Insights and Analysis

Korea Responds to Earthquake in Haiti

January 20, 2010

By Edward Reed

Korea’s immediate commitment of $10 million in assistance to Haiti and the response by corporations and the Korean public is impressive.

Clearly Koreans want to help, but how can they be sure that their aid will be most effective?

In an emergency of this scale and complexity, and in a relatively limited area, the most important thing is coordination among the aid providers. Korea should work closely with the United Nations and other major donors to ensure that assistance is provided in an integrated and coordinated way. [Read a recent Washington Post op-ed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for more on the UN’s role in the disaster.]

Otherwise, there could be logistical bottlenecks that delay aid arrival and duplication of efforts that leads to wasted aid. This is not the time for each country and organization to raise its own flag, but it is time to work together under central coordination.

Another important point is to plan for a long-term response by distinguishing between immediate humanitarian assistance, mid-term recovery and reconstruction and development. There is usually a rush to assist those who are in need of immediate help since we can see images of them on TV. This is good and needed. However, there must be a commitment to stay with Haiti for the long haul.

Read the full op-ed originally published on January 19 in The Korea Times.

Edward Reed is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Korea. He can be reached at

Related locations: Korea
Related programs: Economic Opportunity
Related topics: Center for U.S.-Korea Policy


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