Haiti faces anger and despair a week after quake, stirring security fears

MARCELINE, Haiti: Tensions in Haiti were rising on Saturday over a lack of aid to remote areas of the impoverished country hardest hit by last week’s devastating earthquake that killed over 2,000 people.

Many Haitians whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the magnitude 7.2 quake that struck on Aug. 14 said they were unsure how to even start rebuilding.

Exasperation over the time it was taking for aid to come through began to boil over on Friday, with residents attacking aid trucks in several towns across the south of the Caribbean nation.

A confrontation also erupted after former President Michel Martelly visited a local hospital in the city of Les Cayes, where one of his staff left behind an envelope of money that set of a violent scramble.

“We are concerned about the deteriorating security situation that may disrupt our assistance to vulnerable Haitians. We are talking to the authorities and all actors to try and prevent this,” said Pierre Honnorat, head of the United Nations’ World Food Program in Haiti. The official death toll from the earthquake stands at 2,189 people, with an estimated 332 people still missing. But residents in towns across the southern rural countryside are still digging for bodies believed to lie underneath the rubble.

Tens of thousands of homes are in ruins, leaving many families with no option but to sleep outside despite torrential downpours at night. The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs until the end of November and Prime Minister Ariel Henry has warned residents to brace for more storms.

“After the emergency phase, which we hope will only last a few weeks, we will need to start thinking about reconstruction,” Henry told a meeting with the Organization of American States on Friday, appealing to neighboring countries for support and aid. – Reuters