More Than 1 Million Homeless After Haiti Quake More than a week after last week's deadly earthquake in Haiti, more than 1 million people lack shelter. Niurka Pineiro, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, which is heading efforts to set up temporary shelters, says it's difficult to set up tent camps because the government doesn't want some locations to become permanent settlements.

More Than 1 Million Homeless After Haiti Quake

More Than 1 Million Homeless After Haiti Quake

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More than a week after last week's deadly earthquake in Haiti, more than 1 million people lack shelter. Niurka Pineiro, a spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, which is heading efforts to set up temporary shelters, says it's difficult to set up tent camps because the government doesn't want some locations to become permanent settlements.


As we just heard from Jason, the earthquake has left Haiti with a severe housing problem. Perhaps a million people have no shelter now. The International Organization for Migration is taking the lead role in solving that problem and their spokeswoman, Niurka Pineiro joins me now from Haiti. And it's been a week now since the earthquake struck. Why are there no tents set up or at least no tents on a massive scale set up to accommodate these one million or so displaced people?

Ms. NIURKA PINEIRO (Spokeswoman, International Organization for Migration): Well, the number one, you have to remember we didn't have any tents on the ground. We had some stocks of non-food items like plastic sheeting, and tarpaulins, and hygiene kits and such that we had prepositioned for the hurricane season, which was very benign last year. So, we began distributing the items that we had. An appeal was sent out on Saturday morning. We've now received millions of dollars and tents are arriving. We've received the first couple of shipments and we are in the process. But it's difficult to set up these tent camps because the government doesn't want certain locations to become permanent settlements. So we need to find places where these people can gather.

As of today, there are some three hundred spontaneous settlements all over the city, some very small, could be up to a hundred people, some have thousands of people.

BRAND: When you say spontaneous settlements, what does that mean?

Ms. PINEIRO: Spontaneous settlements basically means people are they are afraid. They don't want to go back in their homes. So, they have taken whatever piece of cloth they had, a sheet, a piece of plastic, anything and they've put it up, and entire families are living under this one sheet. So, you can imagine with the type of weather we have here - it's 90 degrees today - that this is not a solution. So we, as the lead agency for shelter are saying, okay, assessments are needed. We need to consult with the government. We need to consult with people on the ground. But we need to start delivering these tents as soon as possible.

BRAND: I guess I don't understand now what the hold up is. Because I understand in the immediate days following the earthquake that you had to assess and gather your resources and make appeals for aid, but now it's been a week. And still no massive tent encampments for these people. Where do you see the hold up?

Ms. PINEIRO: Well, the hold up is, we didn't get the tents until Sunday. The first ones came in. So, that was one hold up. You know, the second hold up is basically discussing with the government what they want to do with these people, where we want to put the tents. And what we don't want is just to give tents to people so they can set them up themselves because there needs to be some order. I mean, we're not trying to make this perfect. But, you know, people need to have then facilities where - or latrines. We have to have deliveries of food brought in. So, yes, it has been slow. We agreed to that and we're saying that we're now, you know, ready to start delivering but we cannot just do that ourselves.

BRAND: Are you waiting for the government to say, okay, you can set up your tents in this spot?

Ms. PINEIRO: I mean, we're waiting for government. We're waiting for our partners. We're trying the best that we can to get these tents out to the people. But admittedly there has been a hold up. When we've had hurricane response here in Haiti, which we've done many times, it has been different. People have been able to go to a collecting center and then eventually they go back home. Most of these people, they can never go back to that home. So, we need to find places where we can have a tent set up today but where permanent homes can also be built at the same site.

So, it's a challenge. It's not a justification of what's going on. But it is a challenge. It's chaotic. It's a mess. And hopefully we'll start doing it as soon as we get the go ahead.

BRAND: Ms. Pineiro, thank you very much.

Ms. PINEIRO: All right. Thank you.

BRAND: That's Niurka Pineiro. She is a spokeswoman with the International Organization for Migration. They are the lead agency in setting up tents in Haiti.

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Major Aftershock Rocks Earthquake-Stricken Haiti

A huge crowd of Haitians follows soldiers with the 82nd Airborne division through a street in Port-au-Prince. Most of them are living in a tent city set up in a soccer field adjoining a U.S. field hospital. John Poole/NPR hide caption

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John Poole/NPR

A powerful aftershock struck Haiti early Wednesday, sending frightened survivors from last week's devastating earthquake scrambling out of already damaged structures and into the streets.

The temblor, originally estimated at magnitude 6.1, but later revised to 5.9, occurred just eight days after the massive earthquake that demolished buildings in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, killing perhaps as many as 200,000 people and throwing the country into chaos.

On-Air Coverage

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said Wednesday that it was sending more than 2,000 additional U.S. Marines to the area, adding to the thousands of American troops already on the ground or offshore. Officials said the 2,200-strong 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which had been en route from Norfolk, Va., to the Persian Gulf, would be diverted to Haiti.

'All The Walls Started Shaking Here'

The latest aftershock hit just after 6 a.m. about 35 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince and 13.7 miles below the surface, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It was not immediately clear whether it caused more damage or injuries.

NPR's Carrie Kahn, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said that in her hotel, "You heard yelling, 'Run, run, go!' I heard debris falling, and everyone was out as quick as they could."

The shaking lasted "probably about 10 seconds," said Jackie Northam, another NPR correspondent staying at the same hotel. "It was a deep, deep rumble under the ground and all the walls started shaking here.

"They've had aftershocks in the past week. Some have been large, some have been small, but this one was very big," Northam said. More than 40 significant aftershocks have followed the Jan. 12 quake.

That magnitude 7 event left 250,000 injured and made 1.5 million homeless, according to the European Union Commission.

Haiti can expect even more aftershocks in the days and weeks to come, said Bruce Pressgrave, a geophysicist with the USGS. He says the aftershocks are a sign that the ground underneath the quake zone is adjusting to "the new reality of the rock layers."

Relief Supplies Reaching Remote Areas

Coordinating a massive international relief effort to get food and water to survivors has proved difficult in some areas, with reports of looting and violence in parts of the quake-affected zone.

David Orr, a spokesman for the U.N. World Food Program, told NPR's Morning Edition that the agency was setting up four fixed distribution points in Port-au-Prince and was beginning to reach devastated areas outside the capital that had been cut off by blocked roads and collapsed infrastructure.

"We are flying, for example, high-energy biscuits into the outlying areas, such as the town of Jacmel, which was badly hit and was unreachable until recently because the road was down due to a mudslide," Orr said.

So far, Orr said, the WFP had served about 133,000 beneficiaries, mostly with high-energy biscuits, as well as rice, legumes, oil and salt. He said the agency hoped to serve 2 million quake survivors but that it could be weeks or perhaps a month before that goal was reached.

Orr acknowledged that the aid distributions to date had not been "textbook."

He noted that "we certainly haven't seen any incidents of panic or anything out of control."

Food Melee In Port-au-Prince

But a different story emerged in some areas of the city Tuesday. On a golf course in Port-au-Prince, NPR correspondents witnessed a scene that bordered on chaos as U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne tried to keep order while food was distributed.

Thousands of Haitians converged on the makeshift aid distribution point. What started out as a fairly orderly operation quickly got out of control as some 25,000 people swarmed the site.

In a bid to restore calm, U.S. Army Capt. John Hartzog ordered his men to take three steps back and sit down. It worked, as many Haitians apparently sensed the gesture was meant to ease the tension.

"I'm thinking about possibly, maybe not tomorrow, but the next day ... having them sit down right off the bat," Hartzog said. "We've tried different things. Sometimes it goes smooth, sometimes it doesn't."

Photo Gallery: Treating The Wounded

Andre Bouchard, the chief security officer for the U.N. operation in Haiti, says some areas of Port-au-Prince have proved difficult to control.

"The thing is that we don't have currently an order to say that we can contain specific areas," Bouchard said. "We have a situation where we can have looting happening roughly anywhere around town."

More than a week after the earthquake, the prospect of finding more survivors has dimmed, though there have been some improbable successes.

In Jacmel, an infant was pulled alive and apparently unhurt from the rubble of a crushed house. "That's a miracle, man. A miracle," said onlooker France Lambert.

Children Turned Away At Orphanages

Many children have been left parentless, and already overcrowded orphanages have been forced to refuse new arrivals.

At one orphanage, babies were sleeping in the back of a dilapidated Isuzu truck, while toddlers were in a tent and the teenagers in the open, NPR's Jason Beaubien reported.

The Port-au-Prince facility housed about 150 children, many of whom were destined for families in the U.S. before the quake. About 10 of them already had passports but were waiting for the last few bureaucratic wrinkles to be ironed out.

The staff is "just hoping to get all of these orphans out of Port-au-Prince," Beaubien said. "They would like to airlift all of them to the United States immediately."

Children who are being turned away at the capital's packed orphanages are "probably getting absorbed with the other people sleeping on the streets," he said. "Those children are incredibly vulnerable — it's very unclear what is going to happen with these children that have lost both parents to the quake."

Fleeing The Quake Zone

As international aid groups try to get relief supplies into devastated areas, many Haitians were boarding buses in the capital's Cite Soleil slum to take them north, away from the earthquake zone.

People desperate to get out filled the makeshift station, where flatbed trucks and brightly festooned old American school buses were packed high with personal belongings.

"It's not possible to live in Port-au-Prince right now, because we don't have a house." Juanita Laura Lee told NPR as she waited to board one of the buses.

She was making her way to Cap-Haitien, about 100 miles north of the capital, along with her sister and three children.

"I don't know when I'm going to come back," she says.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report