Well, after over two weeks of indecision and delays, our Disaster Assistance
Reluctant Response Team has finally responded. The team has started to arrive in Ampara (Sri Lanka), ready to supply clean water and set up a field hospital. Unfortunately, according to both a CTV report by Lisa Laflamme, and a CBC radio story today, by now the area has drinkable water, warehouses of medical supplies, and doctors standing idle. The local needs are more long term now, as in houses and roads. The DART's mandate includes not only fresh water and medical aid, but also infrastructure re-building, and communications. They are a dedicated and enthusiastic team, I assume they brought hammers as well as scalpels, and can quickly refocus without another round of political discussions.
The team was created in 1996 to be a quick response team, after we saw international response to the cholera epidemic in Rwanda in 1994 arrive too late to be of much help. Since then they have been sent to two areas, Turkey and Honduras - but perhaps should be sent even more often. And more quickly. Besides the political issues of where and when to send the team, the big issue is of course cost, Turkey for example cost $15 million. My only concern would be - did we get $15 million worth out of the relief effort to Turkey? How do you measure the lives saved, or the efficiency of the response team? Does all the money for DART get funneled by the Liberals through a Montreal ad agency? Hopefully DART gets the support and autonomy needed to respond faster, and doesn't end up with its wing's clipped through "cost management", like the Arrow did.