[News] In Grand Goave, Relief Efforts Frustrate Haitian Neighborhood Leaders
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 29 11:03:23 EST 2010
In Grand Goave, Relief Efforts Frustrate Haitian Neighborhood Leaders 28Jan2010
Inter-Press Service. Listen to the audio at Free
Speech Radio News
GRAND GOAVE, Jan 28, 2010 (IPS) Two gray
23-million-dollar hovercrafts sitting in the
middle of a sandy tropical beach look like they
are from another world. A pair of 15-foot-wide
propeller fans sticks out from the back of each behemoth.
Along the narrow dirt road to this seaside towns
centre, families live under blankets stretched over sticks.
A tent city occupies the towns main square,
surrounded by crumbling buildings. Joseph
Jean-Pierre Salam, the mayor of Grand Goave,
about 15 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince,
estimated that some 70 percent of the citys
important structures fell during the 7.0
earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.
They have made many promises, but we dont see
the action yet, Salam said, referring to the
international community. We have a lot of people
suffering. There is an expectation that help will come.
Little food and water has been distributed by the
dozens U.S. troops milling about the beach since
the earthquake, according to local leaders.
I went there to talk to them, said Jean-Jacob
Renee, an English teacher. They said they are
there to set up some tents for themselves, but
they did not come with food or water anything for the people.
He said the only aid the military brought to
Grand Goave was distributed by Catholic Relief
Services, an international NGO. When they are in
the town, we dont know. We dont have their
phone number, he said. Nobody has helped us.
U.S. military personnel on the beach were busy
unloading construction material and heavy
equipment from cargo boats. Senior Chief Petty
Officer Steve Krutky told IPS his disaster
recovery team cleared a rockslide out of the road
and worked to repair local orphanages run by evangelical missions.
The U.S. military did not respond to IPS requests
for further clarification of the Navys role in Grand Goave.
An analysis by the Associated Press on Wednesday
found that 33 cents of every dollar towards
emergency aid in Haiti goes to military aid, more
than three times the nine cents spent on food.
Residents of Grand Goave said there is a network
of seven neighbourhood leaders for each section
of the city that has not been tapped in the
relief effort. Friends are pooling resources to
purchase rice when possible, but family after
family living outside the rubble of their homes
told IPS they have received no assistance.
The roof of Rinvil Jean Weldys modest one-story
brick house is broken off, resting at an angle on
top of a kitchen table covered in dust. The rear
wall crumbled, spilling onto the cracked ground.
His wife remains at a nearby hospital nursing an injury from the quake.
We need a tent, we need food and water, all the
normal things, Weldy said, pointing at his sons,
who were hammering together scraps of wood to
build the frame of a tent. To the U.N., I say, I need help now.
Weldy has been expecting compensation from the
U.N. since Nov. 10, when he and numerous
witnesses say part of a bullet fired by U.N.
peacekeeping troops hit his shoulder. Four days
before the earthquake, the U.N. said an internal
investigation into the incident cleared the soldiers of any wrongdoing.
told IPS the troops fired into the ground in an
attempt to control a curious crowd, not into the air, as the U.N. maintains.
The U.N. peacekeepers are roundly dismissed by
many Haitians as a source for relief in the
country. We have been living with the U.N. for
many years, but now we see them very little,
Mayor Salam said matter-of-factly.
In Leogane, on the route back from Grand Goave to
Port-Au-Prince, 500 families from a tent city in
a field lined up in an orderly queue to receive
food packages, in contrast to chaotic aid
dispersals seen in Port-Au-Prince. Individuals
walked into a clearing to grab a box each time a
young Haitian man called out numbers through a megaphone.
For us, it was very important to do this without
military, said Dolores Rescheleit, an aid worker
with a German NGO called Arche Nova that provided
the food. Because the people in the camp are
very strong. When you give the responsibility to
the people in the camp, they will do it better than we will with the military.
A committee of Haitians, with sub-committees to
handle security, hygiene, and aid distribution,
is governing the camp without problems,
Rescheleit said. Women smiled as they walked back
to their tents, balancing boxes of food on their heads.
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