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The response to Haiti

PAUSE for spontaneous self-congratulation over the wave of compassion at the response that followed the Haitian earthquake would still be premature, even two weeks after the disaster.

Yesterday, UN troops and Haitian police were driven to use rubber bullets and pepper spray to maintain order.

Reports of machete fights have also been reported, as desperate people clash over who should have access to the sorely limited supply of tents.

It seems difficult to understand why 14 days later, one million people are still in need of shelter, and three million are in need of food.

Security has yet to be put in place to guarantee that aid can get through, and many parts of the shattered country have yet to receive life-saving assistance.

Italy's aid chief, Guido Bertolaso, was somewhat over-zealous in describing the relief effort as a "pathetic" failure; but his central argument -- that the international community was unable to mount an adequate disaster response -- is harder to dismiss.

Yesterday, GOAL chief John O'Shea also highlighted the need to establish an over-arching entity to coordinate and control aid operations.

Disasters on the scale of the tragedy in Haiti are beyond the scope of any aid organisation to contain.

The international community has a duty to address the leadership vacuum when it comes to mounting global aid responses.

It is not enough to stand back and hope that, somehow, circumstances will throw up a spontaneous solution.