Tensions in Haiti are rising due to a lack of earthquake relief as the death toll is 2,000: NPR


People injured in a car accident are sitting to the right and waiting with other injured during the earthquake for X-rays at Les Cayes General Hospital in Haiti on Wednesday.

Fernando Llano / AP

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Fernando Llano / AP

People injured in a car accident are sitting to the right and waiting with other injured during the earthquake for X-rays at Les Cayes General Hospital in Haiti on Wednesday.

Fernando Llano / AP

LES CAYES, Haiti (AP) – Tensions have risen due to the slowness of aid that has reached the victims of a powerful earthquake that killed more than 2,100 people in Haiti over the weekend and was accompanied by a growing tropical depression.

At a small airport in the southwestern community of Les Cayes, a crowd of people gathered in front of the fence on Wednesday when an aid flight arrived and crews began loading boxes into waiting trucks. One of a small Haitian National Police squad, dressed in military-style uniforms and stationed at the airport to guard aid shipments, fired two warning shots to disperse a group of young men.

An angry mob also gathered on collapsed buildings in the city, looking for tarpaulins to create temporary shelters after Tropical Storm Grace brought heavy rain earlier in the week.

The Haitian Civil Protection Agency increased the death toll from the quake to 2,189 late Wednesday from earlier numbers of 1,941 and said 12,268 people were injured. Dozens of people are still listed as missing.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake destroyed more than 7,000 houses and damaged more than 12,000, and according to official estimates, about 30,000 families were left homeless. Schools, offices and churches were also destroyed or severely damaged. The southwestern region of the Caribbean nation was hardest hit.

One of the first food deliveries by local authorities — several dozen boxes of rice and pre-measured sets of bags in bags — arrived at a tent camp set up in one of Les Cayes ’poorest areas, where most of the one-story buildings are a block of ashes. , houses with tin roofs were damaged or destroyed in Saturday’s earthquake.

But the shipment was clearly insufficient for the hundreds of people who lived under tents and tarpaulins for five days.

“It’s not enough, but we’ll do everything we can to get at least something,” said Vladimir Martino, a camp resident who took over the distribution.

Gerda Francoise, 24, was one of dozens lined up in the scorching heat in hopes of getting food. “I don’t know what I’m going to get, but I need to bring something to my tent,” Francoise said. “I have a child.”

International humanitarian workers in the field said hospitals in the hardest-hit areas were largely incapacitated and there was a desperate need for medical equipment. But the government has told at least one foreign organization that has been operating in the country for nearly three decades that it does not need the help of hundreds of medical volunteers.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry said Wednesday that his administration would work to “not repeat the history of mismanagement and aid coordination”, citing the chaos that followed the devastating earthquake in the country in 2010, when the government was accused of failing to get all the money the donors collected for people who needed it.

Meanwhile, Core Group, a coalition of key international diplomats from the United States and other nations that accompanies Haiti, said in a statement that its members are “determined to work together with national and local authorities to ensure that vulnerable people and areas receive adequate assistance.” as soon as possible. “

Help was slowly arriving to help the thousands of people left homeless. But distribution in the current environment will be a challenge.

“We are planning a meeting to start cleaning up all the destroyed sites, because that will give the owner of that site at least a chance to build something temporary, out of wood, to live in that place,” said Serge Chery, head of civil protection for the southern province, which covers Les Cayes . “It will be easier to distribute aid if people live at their addresses rather than in a tent.”

Chery said about 300 people are still listed as missing in the area.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a preliminary analysis of satellite imagery after the quake revealed hundreds of landslides.

Although some officials have suggested that the search phase must be completed and that heavy machinery must be called in to clear the rubble, it appears Henry did not want to move on to that phase.

“Some of our citizens are still under the rubble. We have teams of foreigners and Haitians working on it,” he said.

He also appealed for unity: “We must gather our heads to rebuild Haiti.”

“The country is physically and mentally devastated,” Henry said.

Dr Barth Green, president and co-founder of Project Medishare, an organization that has been working in Haiti since 1994 to improve health services, said he hoped the U.S. military would establish a field hospital in the affected area.

“All the hospitals are broken and collapsed, the operating rooms are not working, and if you bring tents, it is hurricane season, they can explode immediately,” Green said.

Green noted that his organization has “hundreds of medical volunteers, but the Haitian government tells us they don’t need them.” Still, the organization engaged along with others.

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