Lack Of Relief Triggers Anxiety, Violence In Haiti

In Haiti, relief supplies haven't reached the general population in large enough quantities, fueling anxieties and security fears and triggering isolated incidents of violence. The U.S. military is facing challenges in trying to deliver aid, as well as provide a basis for more robust security in Haiti's capital and beyond.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Its MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And Im Renee Montagne.

For all the countless people killed in the rubble of Haiti, even more people are vulnerable now. They are the survivors of last weeks earthquake.

INSKEEP: Some are astonishingly lucky, like two survivors who have been pulled from the remains of a supermarket. Officials say they survived all these days by eating food that was trapped alongside them.

MONTAGNE: Many other people are in the open air, but struggling to get food and water. Well hear some of their stories this morning, and we begin with NPRs Carrie Kahn.

CARRIE KAHN: Haitian police spent hours chasing residents out of damaged markets in the capitals downtown. Each time the police left, groups dash back through crumbled doorways to pull out any goods they could. At the Port-au-Prince cemetery, Oberes Oblas(ph) told an NPR producer he saw police drop off four young men, who the officers said were looters. He says the police told the men to run into the cemetery.

Mr. OBERES OBLAST: Go, go, go, go, go move, move, move quick, and then lying on the floor, and then put the gun direct in their head and blow, blow.

KAHN: A crowd gathered around one of the men as he slowly bled to death. Many said he deserved to die because he was a thief. The shooting happened around the corner from the Port-au-Prince soccer stadium, where the hundreds of homeless were not getting food and water. Jean Charles Linares(ph) says hes so frustrated, he cant wait any longer for food.

Mr. JEAN CHARLES LINARES: You see, actually, now Im hungry. Im just drinking a bottle of water, so whats that? Im drinking, so without eating, whats that?

KAHN: A church group from Korea did try and deliver a truck filled with food and clothing to the stadiums back gate, but as the truck inched backward, the crowd swelled and rushed the vehicle.

(Soundbite of crowd chatter)

KAHN: The driver hit the gas, obviously fearful of the surging crowd. The same scene played out as Guillermo Compagna Jimenez(ph) tried to deliver water from his full tanker. The crowd rushed the truck parked along the busy Port-au-Prince thoroughfare. Jimenez works for a company in the Dominican Republic which donated the water.

(Soundbite of crowd chatter)

KAHN: Residents jostled and fought over control of the spigot controlling the flow of water out of the truck. They filled up whatever containers they had, small plastic bottles, large buckets, even metal pots. Everyone said it was their first clean supply of water theyve had in five days.

Mr. GUILLERMO COMPAGNA JIMINEZ: (Spanish spoken)

KAHN: Jimenez says hell keep his engine running. That way, when the last drop of water is delivered, he wont waste a minute getting out of there. Residents like France Dejon(ph) say they are frustrated by the slow pace of help and the growing insecurity in the city.

Mr. FRANCE DEJON: I hate to say that we need the Americans and British to take over this place.

(Soundbite of helicopter engine)

KAHN: The U.S. 82nd Airborne Division has arrived in Haiti. They stationed about 900 troops at the airport and expect to have a total of 3,500 soldiers here by the end of the week. Lieutenant Colonel Rob Molsbee(ph) says the divisions primary role will be to help establish law and order.

Lieutenant Colonel ROB MOLSBEE (82nd Airborne Division): Security is the most important thing when youre dealing with national disasters, because you want to give these other agencies the opportunity to do what they do.

KAHN: Molsbee led a five-truck convoy filled with medical supplies and doctors to the general hospital downtown. He says he wants to survey the hospital and hear from officials about what is needed there.

Unidentified Man: Welcome to Haiti.

KAHN: Along the crowded streets to the hospital, several people wave and say welcome to the armed soldiers dressed in full camouflage gear. Mosby says it will take a lot of coordination, and there are a lot of logistics still to be worked out before the 82nd will be able to provide security details.

Lt. Col. MOLSBEE: Now, luckily, the Haitian people are wonderful people, and they have not - you know, this is an environment that is it is horrible. It is it really breaks your heart to see wonderful people like this have to go through this.

KAHN: Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.

MONTAGNE: And that story was produced with reporting from NPRs Amy Walters.

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