Offers of emergency relief have been flowing into Washington from foreign governments since the sheer scale of the tragedy became clear. The failure of the US government to react swiftly or take control of the situation has led to scathing attacks from various media.
According to some European observers, channeling the emergency aid through NATO and the European Union spares the Bush administration from the possible embarrassment of having to accept relief from individual governments and leaders to which it would rather not be indebted.
The EU’s aid coordination office in Brussels will manage the aid from member countries that have pledged relief supplies. Emergency aid from the EU includes a crisis intervention team from the Austrian Red Cross; water purification units from Denmark and Sweden and 50,000 pre-prepared meals along with medical experts and disaster management specialists from the UK. Germany has offered to send airlift, vaccination, water-purification, medical-supply and pumping services, while France has agreed to donate 600 tents, 1,000 camp beds, 60 generators and three portable water-treatment plants as well as a 60-strong disaster relief team, two planes, two naval vessels and a hospital ship.
Statements from US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff implying that the depleted number of local authorities was largely at fault for the delayed response angered state officials who complained that federal authorities had failed to deliver urgent help on time and had even blocked some aid efforts.