Who Can Haitians Trust To Deliver Hurricane Aid: Politicians? Aid Groups? Religious Organizations? : Goats and Soda There's a debate about who should control the assistance: politicians, aid groups, church groups.
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Who Can Haitians Trust To Deliver Hurricane Aid?

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Who Can Haitians Trust To Deliver Hurricane Aid?

Who Can Haitians Trust To Deliver Hurricane Aid?

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Aid is starting to reach the parts of Haiti damaged by Hurricane Matthew. And it seems everyone is scrambling to get a part of it. Local politicians are trying to steer the limited resources to their areas. People have looted trucks carrying relief supplies. And there's a broader debate over who should oversee the disaster relief effort. NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: The village of Banatte is a collection of a few dozen houses at the base of steep hills on the outskirts of the city of Les Cayes. Banatte was hit by Hurricane Matthew. A lot of trees are down. Some buildings lost their roofs. The walls of some houses collapsed. But it wasn't leveled like some of the villages further to the west. Pastor Louis Masil, however, cast the damage in apocalyptic terms.

LOUIS MASIL: (Through interpreter) Banatte used to be one of greenest area of Les Cayes. But now the green Banatte is now brown.

BEAUBIEN: As we walk past the carcass of a single drowned cow, he declares that most of the livestock have been lost.

MASIL: (Through interpreter) Animals normally can't breathe normally when they are exposed to so much rain or so much, like, wind blowing. So that's why a lot of animals didn't survive the hurricane.

BEAUBIEN: Except there are pigs and sheep and goats tethered all over the village. Families are back working in their rice fields. We pass a smiling woman in a clean white-and-red shirt. She lost everything, the pastor declares.

He describes Banatte as hell. And everything on the other side of the muddy river at the bottom of the hill is paradise. He's desperately trying to make the case that his village should be getting assistance even if the damage here wasn't the worst. And that's happening in lots of places in southern Haiti right now.

There's also a debate about who should control the assistance. Many politicians in Haiti are vying with each other and aid groups to run the post-disaster relief effort. But Pastor Masil doesn't trust the politicians.

MASIL: (Through interpreter) So since the independence of Haiti, the culture was always all governments - all officials - only care for themselves. They only care for, like, stealing the money and not, like, helping the communities.

BEAUBIEN: The pastor says religious organizations like his church should control the aid. The reality, however, is that even for some of the hardest-hit communities, it could be weeks or months before aid is handed out. And the vice governor of Les Cayes, Louis St. Germain, says people are getting desperate for assistance to arrive.

LOUIS ST GERMAIN: Yesterday, you know, a Samaritan's Purse was on the road to deliver some kids - several kids - to the people in the mountains. And then they get ripped off. They just take everything. It's terrible.

BEAUBIEN: St. Germain says this shows why aid distribution should be controlled by the local government. It can deploy security forces to protect supplies. Although, he adds that the police are going to need reinforcements.

ST GERMAIN: The police officers are - the police stations are really overwhelmed by the situation. So yesterday, we were talking to the director-in-chief of the whole Haiti - of national police. And he said that he's going to send 60 more police officers to us. But it's not going to be enough.

BEAUBIEN: Six-zero.

ST GERMAIN: Six-zero.

BEAUBIEN: Six-zero.

The U.N. now says 1.4 million people in Haiti are in need of assistance in the wake of this hurricane. St. Germain says it's imperative right now that Haiti figures out what the systems are going to be to deliver that aid. Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Les Cayes.

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