Protests, frus­tra­tions erupt as earth­quake aid hits bot­tle­necks af­ter reach­ing Haiti

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hunger turned to anger in Haiti’s cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day as hun­dreds of pro­test­ers marched through the streets ac­cus­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials of de­mand­ing bribes for do­nated food.

Aid work­ers say that food and other sup­plies are now flow­ing into the coun­try three weeks af­ter the Jan. 12 quake, but red tape, fear of am­bush, trans­porta­tion bot­tle­necks and cor­rup­tion are keep­ing it from many peo­ple who need it.

Hun­gry pro­test­ers jogged along a broad av­enue in the Port-au- Prince sub­urb of Pe­tionville wav­ing branches and chant­ing, “They stole the rice! They stole the rice!”

One of the pro­test­ers, 17-yearold Danka Tanzil, said a lo­cal of­fi­cial was de­mand­ing a bribe in re­turn for coupons that en­ti­tle peo­ple to bags of do­nated food from the UN World Food Pro­gram. “For us to get the coupon, we must give 50 Haitian dol­lars (US$7) so we can get the rice,” she com­plained.

The World Food Pro­gram be­gan dis­tribut­ing the coupons to bring or­der to the aid dis­tri­bu­tion and pre­vent strong young men from forc­ing them­selves to the front of food lines.

The UN agency “is aware of re­ports that our coupons have been resold, and we’ve also heard al­le­ga­tions of forg­eries,” WFP spokes­woman Jen­nifer Parmelee said. “How­ever, all ev­i­dence from our co-op­er­at­ing part­ners who are manag­ing the dis­tri­bu­tions ... is that this is not a wide­spread is­sue.”

The agency said it has reached more than 300,000 peo­ple through the coupon pro­gram but needs to reach two mil­lion.

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