RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
And Im Steve Inskeep.
Conditions in Haiti are changing, though its hard to say if they are improving. Food and water are being rushed in, but distribution is slow because of damaged roads and poor communication. The U.S. military says about 1,000 troops are in Haiti now, but as well hear in a few minutes, many more have yet to arrive.
MONTAGNE: One week after an earthquake destroyed most of the capital city, the Haitian people are getting desperate. Many are starting to flee inland, and some have turned to violence.
NPRs Jason Beaubien is in Port-au-Prince, and he joins us now. Jason, where are you, and do you sense a change in mood?
JASON BEAUBIEN: I am in the Petionville neighborhood, which is sort of up the hill from downtown Port-au-Prince. And yes, absolutely, were feeling a shift in the mood. People have been incredibly patient up 'til now, but yesterday things really started to change. Things grew more violent, there was looting, and just anger in the streets in a way that there hadnt been in that first week after the quake.
MONTAGNE: Well, we have been seeing pictures and reading and hearing from you, all about some looting of stores and whatnot. Are you also seeing fighting over supplies that are coming in?
BEAUBIEN: Were only seeing fighting over some of the supplies that are just getting dropped, some of the air drops, people are just rushing in, just basically desperate to get to those supplies. But whats important to note is that there has been almost no aid reaching the people. The shops are not open. The stores are crushed. Banks are shut. There are shops that are not crushed. Those also are not open. So people basically have nowhere to turn, and so people have started looting the main commercial districts just below the national palace.
And yesterday, that violence really ramped up. People were in there with guns, people were burning shops, people were tearing into buildings. We drove down there at one point, and just this rock-throwing mob started hurling rocks and - just sort of a wave of people was coming out of the dust and the smoke from these burning buildings. It was quite dramatic that the shift - that seemed to be occurring.
MONTAGNE: Well, some aid groups have reported treating more victims of violence in the past few days, but I take it the real victims are still those who need medical help, or just simply water and food because of the quake.
BEAUBIEN: Thats absolutely right. People are just waiting for food, waiting for assistance. I put together a piece about this one man, his name is Robinson Bernard(ph). And I met him at the general hospital yesterday, in downtown Port-au-Prince. And he was in the hospital when the earthquake hit. The quake damaged the hospital. And he's still at the compound, but now he is out in the courtyard. He's splayed naked on a dilapidated mattress under a tree. And he says before the quake, his family came each day to clean and feed him.
Mr. ROBINSON BERNARD: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: They used to come, Bernard says, but they dont anymore. The 34-year-old Bernard is emaciated. His ribs protrude from his chest, and he barely has the strength to lift his head. He says he relies on strangers to give him food, and there is no one to clean his soiled bed sheets. Flies hover over him.
Mr. BERNARD: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: When the earthquake hit, I was sleeping, he says. The earth moved as if I was holding the steering wheel of a car, and then the plaster and the dust from the ceiling was all over me. Bernard used to be a plumber. He says he got in an argument with some men; they stole his cell phone and shot him. His legs are paralyzed, his face is unshaven, his fingernails are unclipped and packed with dirt.
Bernard doesnt know if his family members survived the quake or not, but he says he has faith that they are alive, and theyre just too busy and have too many problems of their own right now to come check on him. After the quake, he says, five journalists carried his bed out of the damaged hospital and left him here, under this tree. Bernard says hes been growing weaker each day since the quake, but he is confident he will survive.
Mr. BERNARD: (Foreign language spoken)
BEAUBIEN: The time for me to die has already passed, he says, referring to when he was shot back in November. I pray so much, and I have accepted Jesus into my life. This, he says, is whats keeping him alive.
Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.
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