PORT-AU-PRINCE: Aid workers hoping to distribute food, water and other supplies to a shattered Port-au-Prince are warning their efforts may need more security today as Haitians grow increasingly desperate and impatient for help.
United Nations peacekeepers patrolling the capital said people’s anger is rising that aid hasn’t been distributed quickly, and the Brazilian military warned aid convoys to add security to guard against looting.
“Unfortunately, they’re slowly getting more angry and impatient,” said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the Brazilian-commanded UN peacekeeping mission. “I fear, we’re all aware that the
situation is getting more tense as the poorest people who need so much are waiting for deliveries. I think tempers might be frayed.”
The UN World Food Program reported today that its warehouses in the Haitian capital had been looted since Tuesday’s cataclysmic earthquake. It didn’t know how much of its pre-quake stockpile of 15,000 tons of food aid remained, but said some supplies were stored elsewhere in Haiti. A spokeswoman for the Rome-based agency, Emilia Casella, noted that regular food stores in Port-au-Prince also had been emptied by looters. Casella said the WFP was preparing shipments of enough ready-to-eat meals to feed 2 million for a month.
The international Red Cross estimated 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in the quake, based on information from the Haitian Red Cross and government officials. UN officials estimated today that 10 percent of the homes in Port-au-Prince had been destroyed, leaving some 300,000 people without shelter.
Hundreds of bodies were stacked outside the city morgue, and limbs of the dead protruded from the rubble of crushed schools and homes. A few workers were able to free people who had been trapped under the rubble for days, but others attended to the grim task of using bulldozers to transport loads of bodies.
For the long-suffering people of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, shock was giving way to despair. “We need food. The people are suffering. My neighbours and friends are suffering,” said Sylvain Angerlotte, 22. “We don’t have money. We don’t have nothing to eat. We need pure water.” From Europe, Asia
and the Americas, more than 20 governments, the UN
and private aid groups were sending high-energy biscuits and other food, water, tents, blankets, water-purification gear, heavy equipment for removing debris, helicopters and other transport. Hundreds of search-and-rescue, medical and other specialists also headed to Haiti.