Aid ar­rives, des­per­a­tion spreads in cut­off towns

Con­cern is grow­ing over an in­crease in cholera cases after Hur­ri­cane Matthew

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Jeremie, Haiti

He­li­copters are fer­ry­ing in food and medicine to dev­as­tated south­west­ern Haiti, but al­most a week after Hur­ri­cane Matthew’s as­sault life here is still far from nor­mal and des­per­a­tion is grow­ing in com­mu­ni­ties where aid has yet to ar­rive.

Power is still out, wa­ter and food are scarce, and of­fi­cials say that young men in vil­lages along the road be­tween the hard-hit cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie are putting up block­ades of rocks and bro­ken branches to halt con­voys of ve­hi­cles bring­ing re­lief sup­plies.

“They are see­ing th­ese con­voys com­ing through with sup­plies and they aren’t stop­ping. They are hun­gry and thirsty and some are get­ting an­gry ,” said Dony Saint Ger­main, an of­fi­cial with El Shad­dai Min­istries In­ter­na­tional.

A con­voy car­ry­ing food, wa­ter and medicine was at­tacked by gun­men in a re­mote val­ley where there had been a bad mud­slide, said Fred­nel Kedler, the co­or­di­na­tor for the Civil Pro­tec­tion Agency in Grand-Anse depart­ment. He said au­thor­i­ties will try to reach ma­rooned and des­per­ate com­mu­ni­ties west of Jeremie on Mon­day.

Through­out Haiti’s south­west­ern penin­sula, peo­ple were dig­ging them­selves out from the wreck­age of the storm, which killed hun­dreds, de­stroyed tens of thou­sands of houses, left at least 350,000 peo­ple in need of as­sis­tance and raised con­cerns of a surge in cholera cases.

Guil­laume Sil­vera, a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Civil Pro­tec­tion Agency in storm-blasted Grand-Anse, which in­cludes Jeremie, said at least 522 deaths were con­firmed there alone — not in­clud­ing peo­ple in sev­eral re­mote com­mu­ni­ties still ma­rooned by col­lapsed roads and bridges.

The Na­tional Civil Pro­tec­tion head­quar­ters in Port-au-Prince, mean­while, said its of­fi­cial count for the whole coun­try was 336, which­in­cluded 191 deaths in Grand-Anse.

Peo­ple in Port Sa­lut and Les Cayes said lit­tle to no aid had reached them by Sun­day. Be­sides food and wa­ter, they need cloth­ing and es­pe­cially shoes be­cause many have cut their feet or stepped on old nails be­cause so much de­bris is scat­tered about. The des­per­a­tion comes as in­ter­na­tional re­lief ef­forts ramp up. The first three of five cargo planes of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid from the United States have ar­rived at Port-au-Prince’s air­port. They were car­ry­ing 480met­ric tons of re­lief sup­plies, in­clud­ing 20,000 hy­giene kits, 18,000 sets of kitchen uten­sils for cook­ing, 40,000 blan­kets and 500 rolls of plas­tic sheet­ing.

The airstrip in Jeremie, a city near the tip of Haiti’s south­west penin­sula, is un­able to ac­com­mo­date large cargo planes, so re­lief was be­ing fer­ried to the dev­as­tated city by he­li­copter. Three of nine US he­li­copters had ar­rived in Jeremie by Sun­day, bring­ing rice and cook­ing oil, among other things.

Con­cern was grow­ing over an in­crease in cholera cases fol­low­ing wide­spread flood­ing un­leashed by Matthew. An on­go­ing cholera out­break has al­ready killed roughly 10,000 peo­ple and sick­ened more than 800,000 since 2010.

RO­DRIGO ARANGUA / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Peo­ple line up for food and clothes at a shel­ter in Port-Sa­lut, south­west of Port-au-Prince, on Sun­day, days after Hur­ri­cane Matthew struck Haiti, dev­as­tat­ing the coun­try.

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