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Haiti wants to move 400,000 out of capital

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Jan 22, 2010
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    Suburb picked to start; aid still backed up with 1,400 flights waiting

    [​IMG]Ricardo Arduengo / AP
    People use water from a pothole to wash in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Logistical problems have slowed aid efforts, and many people are still desperate for food and water.
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    msnbc.com news services
    updated 7:24 p.m. ET Jan. 21, 2010

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Haiti's government on Thursday unveiled plans to move 400,000 earthquake victims to new settlements outside the destroyed capital.
    The first wave of 100,000 people were to be sent to transitional tent villages of 10,000 each near Croix Des Bouquets, a suburb north of Port-au-Prince, Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime told reporters.
    The minister did not provide a timeline, but Brazilian U.N. peacekeepers were already leveling land at a site where the Inter-American Development Bank planned to help build permanent homes for 30,000 people.
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    The plan would let displaced Haitians help build their own new homes under a food-for-work scheme, allowing them to stay close to the area where they had made a living.
    Many for now were jammed into haphazard camps with no toilets, sleeping outdoors because their homes were destroyed or out of fear that aftershocks would bring down more buildings. Aftershocks of 4.8 and 4.9 magnitude shook the capital on Thursday, further stressing traumatized survivors.
    The United Nations has counted nearly 450 homeless encampments in Port-au-Prince alone and urged the government to begin consolidating them to streamline food distribution.
    The city's water system is only partially functional and tanker trucks are delivering water to makeshift camps where people lined up to fill their buckets.
    Violence and looting has subsided as U.S. troops provided security for water and food distribution, and thousands of displaced Haitians heeded the government's advice to seek shelter in villages outside Port-au-Prince.
    More than 13,000 U.S. military personnel are in Haiti and on 20 ships offshore, and the number is expected to soar to 20,000 by Sunday. Troops landed helicopters on the lawn of the destroyed presidential palace to pick up the seriously wounded and fly them to the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort, which has advanced surgical units.
    Small grocery shops and barber shops, as well as some pharmacies, were open again in Port-au-Prince, some extending credit to regular customers short of cash.
    Banks were to reopen on Friday in the provinces and on Saturday in Port-au-Prince, giving most Haitians their first access to cash since the quake hit, Commerce Minister Josseline Colimon Fethiere told Reuters.
    1,400 flights waiting to land
    The U.S. military on Thursday said it was tapping another airport in neighboring Dominican Republic to help bring in relief supplies and that the capital's harbor had been reopened to large ships bringing aid.
    Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of Southern Command, said that while 120 to 140 flights a day are now able to land at the Port-au-Prince airport, the military has a waiting list of 1,400 flights.
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    In addition to alternative airfields opened this week in Jacmel, Haiti, and one in the neighboring Dominican Republic, another airport is now open in the Dominican Republic, Fraser said.
    Fraser added that the U.S. military effort has cost more than $100 million so far, but he could not say whether that was just military operating costs or if it also included the physical supplies (medical, meals, etc.) that the military has provided.
    At the harbor in Port-au-Prince, U.S. crews were able to move enough debris to open some dock space.
    "We're on our third vessel and the structural engineers have OK'd this operation we are doing," Coast Guard Lt. Commander Mark Gibbs said Thursday.
    Also Thursday, two aftershocks, one a magnitude-4.9, prompted rescue crews to briefly abandon work on ruined buildings, though there were no reports of casualties or damage.

    They followed a magnitude-5.9 temblor a day earlier. At least 50 sizable aftershocks have jolted the city, sending nervous Haitians fleeing repeatedly into the streets — and keeping many sleeping in the open.
    The 7.0 magnitude quake which roiled Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 12 killed an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people and left the poverty-stricken country looking to the world for basic sustenance.
    A week after the earthquake, and with fewer signs of more survivors buried under rubble, international rescue teams have begun pulling out.
    A Florida search and rescue team left Haiti on Wednesday and it was reported that teams from Belgium, Luxembourg and Britain did as well.
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    U.S. and international teams have rescued 122 people, the White House said, while Haitians themselves rescued many others in the hours and days after the quake.
    Some teams were still working with sniffer dogs at the collapsed Hotel Montana, where a whiteboard listed the names of 10 people found dead and 20 more still missing inside. Crews had treaded gingerly, shifting rubble by hand, but were switching to heavy machinery to dig up the bulk of the hotel.
    "As well as being hopeful you have to be realistic and after nine days, reality says it is more difficult to find people alive but it's not impossible," said Chilean Army Major Rodrigo Vasquez.
    Dying from infection
    Most of the basics in Port-au-Prince are still missing or barely functional. Hospitals are overwhelmed and doctors lack anesthesia, forcing them to operate with only local painkillers.
    Doctors Without Borders cited 10-to-12-day backlogs of patients at some of its surgical sites as well as infections of untreated wounds. "Some victims are already dying of sepsis," the group said.
    "The next health risk could include outbreaks of diarrhea, respiratory tract infections and other diseases among hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in overcrowded camps with poor or nonexistent sanitation," said Dr. Greg Elder, deputy operations manager for Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

    Haitian government figures relayed by the European Commission put the death toll at 200,000, with 80,000 buried in mass graves. The commission now estimates 2 million homeless, up from 1.5 million, and says 250,000 are in need of urgent aid. "Are we satisfied with the job we are doing? Definitely not," said Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization. "But progress is being made. Think of what we started with when the world came crashing down on Haiti. No roads, only rubble and dead bodies. No communication, only death and despair."
    CONTINUED : 'So many children' in mass graves1 | 2 | Next > http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34928950/ns/world_news-haiti_earthquake/