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UN Troops Pepper Spray Starving Haitians

UN Troops Pepper Spray Starving Haitians

AFP
January 27, 2010

A daily aid hand-out in front of the collapsed National Palace turned into a chaotic scramble as some 18 United Nations peacekeepers attempted to contain 4,000 desperately hungry Haitians.

A UN trooper, who declined to be named, struggled to hold back the jostling crowd with a hard plastic shield.

“Whatever we do, it doesn’t matter – they are animals,” he cried in Spanish, when asked why the peacekeepers were not trying to explain anything in French or Creole.

Troops waved pepper spray into the queue’s front line. Others standing atop a grubby white UN armoured vehicle fired off steady rounds of rubber bullets into the air.

The shots were barely acknowledged by people shoving to get at precious food supplied by the US multi-faith Eagles’ Wings Foundation, which is providing disaster relief.

When asked why there were not greater numbers of UN troops to contain the hungry crowd, peacekeepers gestured that there were not any more available to join them.

“Uno! Uno! Uno!” the Uruguayans troops, part of the UN mission in Haiti, screamed in vain, holding up single fingers in a bid to form an orderly line.

The crowd instead moved as one toward trucks laden with rice sacks emblazoned with the US flag and gallon jugs of vitamin-enriched soy oil.

A vomiting pregnant woman, still gesturing at her mouth to show hunger, was carried off by UN troops after collapsing out of the crush of bodies.

“In five minutes, we’ll leave because they’ll overrun us,” a UN troop warned foreign press photographers.

When they did withdraw, the crowd wildly swarmed to get at the 50 rice sacks left behind.

“It’s all gone, they left nothing,” wailed Geneve, an older Haitian woman clad in sweaty rags, when she finally reached the spot where trampled aid boxes laid empty.

She joined dozens of others to kneel on the trash-strewn street to pick up the last rice grains.

 

Aid distribution in Haiti can be hit-and-miss

Reuters
January 25, 2010

“If you can’t fight you can’t get anything,” said a petite 19-year-old Haitian named Darling who missed the bags of rice and bottles of cooking oil handed out at a crowded earthquake survivors’ camp in Port-au-Prince.

She was one of some 15,000 survivors of the Jan. 12 quake who lined up at a camp in the shattered Delmas neighborhood over the weekend to receive rice and cooking oil given by aid workers to every fourth person in the line.

Aid agency Plan International’s idea was that the Haitians would divide up the rice, or barter it for other supplies.

But for many in the makeshift camp — one of around 400 such sprawling settlements that carpet open spaces in the wrecked Haitian capital — it didn’t work out that way.

“The majority of the people did not find anything,” one survivor said. “There was no sharing,” another said.

Read Full article Here

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