Port au Prince, a Photographer’s Dispatch

When wars unfold or natural disasters strike, few journalists are required to get as close to the action as photographers, whose work can never be done remotely, via phone call or email. Getty Images’ Chris Hondros, who is now in Port au Prince documenting the aftermath of the horrific earthquake, sent these thoughts to FP: ...

574379_958298952.jpg
574379_958298952.jpg
PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI - JANUARY 17: A Haitian girl and others disperse as police fire shots during a looting spree in downtown Port au Prince January 17, 2010 in Port au Prince, Haiti. Sporadic looting broke out in parts of Port au Prince January 17 in the aftermath the historic earthquake that devastated the capital, prompting Haitian police to break up the crowd with gunfire, killing at least one man. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

When wars unfold or natural disasters strike, few journalists are required to get as close to the action as photographers, whose work can never be done remotely, via phone call or email. Getty Images' Chris Hondros, who is now in Port au Prince documenting the aftermath of the horrific earthquake, sent these thoughts to FP:

Dazed people walking the streets of Port au Prince keep saying the same thing: "Haiti is dead." And on one level that's true -- this small country has just endured one of the most searing natural disasters in history, and death is everywhere.  Death is on sidewalks, on the roads, in rivers, buried in rubble and noticeable only by its smell.  The scale is so unimaginable that the usual human traditions and courtesies for the dead have been suspended: many thousands of bodies have been collected by backhoe and dumped into mass graves with no more ceremony than the rubble that goes into the same pits.

But admidst the carnage and chaos there have been remarkable glimmers of hope and strength, of heroism and selflessness. I'm sleeping in my truck in the parking lot of a hotel; outside the walls thousands of Haitians, with nowhere else to go, are camping out on the streets.  But as night descends the singing starts, jumping voices sounding through the darkness, spirituals and ancient songs sung from those streets late into the night. I listen to this from inside the truck as I drift to sleep; its jarring and achingly beautiful."

When wars unfold or natural disasters strike, few journalists are required to get as close to the action as photographers, whose work can never be done remotely, via phone call or email. Getty Images’ Chris Hondros, who is now in Port au Prince documenting the aftermath of the horrific earthquake, sent these thoughts to FP:

Dazed people walking the streets of Port au Prince keep saying the same thing: "Haiti is dead." And on one level that’s true — this small country has just endured one of the most searing natural disasters in history, and death is everywhere.  Death is on sidewalks, on the roads, in rivers, buried in rubble and noticeable only by its smell.  The scale is so unimaginable that the usual human traditions and courtesies for the dead have been suspended: many thousands of bodies have been collected by backhoe and dumped into mass graves with no more ceremony than the rubble that goes into the same pits.

But admidst the carnage and chaos there have been remarkable glimmers of hope and strength, of heroism and selflessness. I’m sleeping in my truck in the parking lot of a hotel; outside the walls thousands of Haitians, with nowhere else to go, are camping out on the streets.  But as night descends the singing starts, jumping voices sounding through the darkness, spirituals and ancient songs sung from those streets late into the night. I listen to this from inside the truck as I drift to sleep; its jarring and achingly beautiful."

Tag: Media

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.