In Haiti, more suffering
In the past few weeks, Haiti has been hit by four hurricanes resulting in a national catastrophe. Fay, Gustave, Hanna and Ike.
Every part of the country was hit. Countless people have died, many swept away by floodwaters — including a seven-member UN peacekeeping squad as they were crossing a bridge that collapsed under them. Scores LETTER OF THE DAY
of peasant dwellings have disappeared, huge tracts of fertile crop land are underwater and scores of livestock are gone.
Gonaive, a city of 50,000, lies under two metres of water, a tragic condition the city endured three years ago from hurricane Jeanne.
Port-au-Prince was not spared. Site Soleil was hit hard as was Carrefour, a densely populated area on the outskirts of the city where six died. We
Fr. had driving rain and strong winds. Many tin-roofed shacks were stripped of their coverings.
The streets were empty due to uprooted trees and flying debris. It has been a nightmare but we were spared the devastation of other districts though the storm season is not over.
Cabaret, a coastal town 20 km north of Port-au-Prince, was hit so suddenly by hurricane Ike at 2 a.m. that more than 60 people, mostly children, were killed as they slept.
This same hurricane left another 30 trapped in an orphanage on high ground surrounded by water.
A rescue team of peacekeepers with locals as guides walked two km in knee-deep water that slowly rose to their shoulders as they reached the trapped orphans who they carried on their shoulders to safety. This was a rescue that endeared these soldiers to the people.
One hurdle is food distribution among a starving population. Last week, we had food distribution here. We had food for 500 while a thousand showed up.
Without the UN peacekeepers to keep order, we would have been swamped, causing injury and even death. Shipments from the international community are arriving.
A system of immediate distribution to respond to such massive hunger is the order of the day. FR. RENE GIROUX
Haiti Mission Port-au-Prince, Haiti