Haitians await aid, help each other re­gain some nor­malcy

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Peo­ple through­out Haiti’s dev­as­tated southwest penin­sula formed makeshift brigades Tues­day to clear de­bris and try to re­gain some sem­blance of their pre-hur­ri­cane lives as anger grew over the de­lay in aid for re­mote com­mu­ni­ties more than a week af­ter the Cat­e­gory 4 storm hit. A com­mu­nity group that formed in the south­ern sea­side com­mu­nity of Les Anglais be­gan clear­ing tree limbs from streets and plac­ing them into piles while oth­ers gath­ered scraps of wood to start re­build­ing homes de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Car­pen­ter James Nas­sau donned a white con­struc­tion hel­met as he re­built a neigh­bor’s wall with re­cy­cled wood, hop­ing to earn a lit­tle money to take care of 10 chil­dren, in­clud­ing those left be­hind by his brother, who died in the storm. “My brother left five kids, and now I’ve got to take care of them,” he said. “No­body has come to help.”

The scene re­peated it­self across small sea­side and moun­tain vil­lages dot­ting the penin­sula, where peo­ple pointed out he­li­copters buzzing over­head and ques­tioned why they haven’t re­ceived any help.

Is­rael Banissa, a car­pen­ter who lives near the small moun­tain town of Mo­ron, said a Red Cross assess­ment team stopped out­side his vil­lage to ask peo­ple ques­tions but didn’t leave any sup­plies. “There’s no aid that’s come here,” he said as he sawed wood to help re­build his home and dozens of oth­ers. “I don’t think they care about the peo­ple up here.” The UN hu­man­i­tar­ian agency in Geneva has made an emer­gency ap­peal for nearly $120 mil­lion in aid, say­ing about 750,000 peo­ple in southwest Haiti alone will need “life-sav­ing as­sis­tance and pro­tec­tion” in the next three months. UN of­fi­cials said ear­lier that at least 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple across the re­gion need as­sis­tance and that 2.1 mil­lion over­all have been af­fected by the hur­ri­cane. Some 175,500 peo­ple re­main in shel­ters.

Death toll 473

The Na­tional Civil Pro­tec­tion head­quar­ters in Port-auPrince raised the of­fi­cial na­tion­wide death toll to 473, which in­cluded at least 244 deaths in Grand-Anse. But lo­cal of­fi­cials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.

Those who sur­vived the storm still faced great chal­lenges, in­clud­ing go­ing days with­out food. Elan­cie Moise, an agron­o­mist and direc­tor for the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture in south­ern Haiti, said be­tween 80 to 100 per­cent of crops have been lost across the south­ern penin­sula. “Cri­sis is not the word to de­scribe it,” he said. “You need a stronger word. It is much worse. There is no food for peo­ple to eat.”

Food was slowly reach­ing re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, but there was also a grow­ing need for med­i­cal sup­plies. In the west­ern sea­side vil­lage of Dame Marie, pa­tients with fes­ter­ing wounds lay silently on beds at the main hospi­tal wait­ing for medicine a week af­ter the storm hit.

Among them was Beau­voir Luck­ner, a cob­bler and farmer who walked 12 kilo­me­ters (seven miles) in three days af­ter a tree fell on his house, crush­ing his leg and killing his mother. The leg might have to be am­pu­tated, but all doc­tors can do is clean his wounds be­cause the hospi­tal has run out of ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing painkillers. “There’s no water, no an­tibi­otics,” Dr. Herby Jean told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “Ev­ery­thing is de­pleted . ... We hear he­li­copters fly­ing over­head, but we’re not get­ting any­thing.”

Mean­while, Luck­ner lay on a mat­tress with no sheets, a ban­dage wrapped around his left leg. “It took a lot of mis­ery to get here and now that I’m here, there’s still mis­ery,” he said. Con­cern also was grow­ing about an in­crease in cases of cholera, which has al­ready killed roughly 10,000 peo­ple and sick­ened more than 800,000 since 2010. — AP

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