Chile Government Requests Aid, Backs Off Earlier Statement

Chile's government has requested help from foreign governments and NGOs as the extent of the devastation wreaked from Saturday morning's earthquake became clearer.

Chile had initially said that the country did not need outside help, but as hundreds of thousands of buildings have been discovered destroyed and many areas found inaccessible due to damaged roads, the national government has appealed for aid.

The United Nations says they are now being asked for "generators, water filtration equipment and field hospitals," in addition to analysts to assess the damage.

From The New York Times:

The quake has also exposed the fact, experts say, that although Chile is one of the most developed countries in the region, it is also one of the most unequal, with huge pockets of urban and rural poor, who suffered most in the quake.

"It's the poorest Chileans who live near the epicenter," said Carolina Bank, a Chilean-born sociology professor at Brooklyn College.

Many of Chile's poorest residents say the government has been slow to respond -- and many are living outside in tents with no food or water, echoing the humanitarian crisis persisting in Haiti.

Fortunately, many of the same humanitarian organizations bringing aid to Haiti are in Chile, and you can give to their efforts. The proximity of these crises highlights the danger of earmarking funds for one place. For example, if an organization has a surplus of money designated for Haiti, it cannot be moved over to Chile, even if the same group has a presence there and the money is needed. For this reason, organizations will often request that donations go to their general fund so the money can be spent wherever help is needed.