Haiti PM begs for help as looting grips devastated Port-au-Prince
Haiti’s premier begged foreign donors Monday to back the reconstruction of his quake-hit country as fresh looting and chaotic food hand-outs underscored the grim conditions facing survivors.
Nearly two weeks after the disaster, which killed around 150,000 people and left a million homeless, international powers meeting in Montreal heard that it would take at least a decade to rebuild the stricken Caribbean nation.
Haitian police shot two people in the head as scavengers plundered the debris in the ruined heart of Port-au-Prince, while thousands more people joined a mass exodus from squalid tent camps in the capital.
Haitian police shoot scavengers indiscriminately
“The country is ravaged, I ask myself how it can be rebuilt after this catastrophe. The Haitian government is very corrupt,” said Gesnel Faustin, 29, living in a tent outside Haiti’s destroyed presidential palace.
In Montreal, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the world must map out a long-term strategy for the Americas’ poorest country, after meeting immediate needs for food, water, shelter and health care.
“I just want to say that the people of Haiti will need to be helped to face this colossal work of reconstruction,” Bellerive told world officials including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned of a long path ahead to rebuild Haiti and urged the world to hash out a “coordinated” plan for the ill-starred country.
“It was not an exaggeration to say that at least 10 years of hard work awaits the world in Haiti,” Harper said.
Donor countries had agreed to hold a full conference on aid to Haiti at the UN headquarters in New York in March, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said.
Donors vow to help rebuild Haiti
Haiti’s President Rene Preval, in a statement from Port-au-Prince, urged the world to urgently airlift a further 200,000 tents and 36 million ready-to-eat ration packs before the country’s rainy season starts in May.
International rescuers led by 20,000 US troops have struggled to get enough aid in the capital and badly-hit towns near the epicentre of the 7.0-magnitude quake, increasing fears about post-quake security.
Cleanup offers Haitians a glimmer of hope
A group of Haitian police, trying to keep control among a desperate population after the quake which was also wrecked the city prison, opened fire on a warehouse in the capital where many looters were hiding out.
An AFP photographer inside the building said two men were shot in the head, one of whom received medical attention. Two others were lying prone on the floor, one lifeless. The other was treated for a serious head wound.
At the presidential palace, a daily aid hand-out turned into a chaotic scramble as a small team of Uruguayan UN peacekeepers faced off against a crowd of 4,000 desperately hungry Haitians.
“Whatever we do, it doesn’t matter — they are animals,” said one UN trooper as others sprayed pepper spray and fired rubber bullets into the air.
Overrun UN forced to leave thousands of Haitians hungry
Bulldozers cleared corpse-filled houses elsewhere in the city centre, as hopes dimmed of finding more miracle survivors in the rubble. The last, a man who survived for 11 days by drinking cola, was found on Saturday.
The UN said more than 235,000 Haitians have taken advantage of free buses to flee the filthy conditions in Port-au-Prince for more hygienic camps outside the capital. Others have used private transport.
Huts, committees and jobs in Haiti refugee camp
Health Minister Alex Larsen said tents were being readied for 400,000 quake victims at mini-villages outside the capital that will initially hold 20,000 people, and in the long term accommodate around one million.
But the tide of humanity is putting a huge burden on small towns outside the capital where thousands of desperate people are staying with family, friends or even strangers.
Refugees from ‘nightmare’ swamp Haitian town
The international aid effort came under fire from Italy’s public safety chief, sent to Haiti last week, who criticized a lack of leadership in the response to the quake.
Guido Bertolaso, who led the response to the L’Aquila earthquake in April 2009, said it was “a terrible situation that could have been managed much better” and said US forces had “too many officers” to find a capable leader.