Prime Minister Ariel Henry said that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that has caused more than 2,000 deaths caused Haiti to “knee its knees”, and survivors expressed increasing frustration at the slow rescue operations in the hardest-hit areas.
Henry promised to increase aid quickly. But in a video speech on Wednesday night, he admitted that the Caribbean country is in trouble.
“Haiti is kneeling now,” Henry said. “The earthquake that destroyed most of the southern part of the country once again proved our limits and how vulnerable we are.”
An eyewitness told Reuters that after a helicopter with supplies arrived, dozens of people went to Lesquet Airport to ask for food. The police intervened and let a truck carrying aid materials leave.
After another night of rain, residents of Les Cases, including those camping in a tent community that has sprung up like mushrooms in the city center, complained about insufficient assistance.
Haitian authorities said on Wednesday night that the official death toll had risen to 2,189.
Videos on social media show that people are increasingly worried about more remote places outside Les Cayes, such as Jeremie in the northwest, where the passageway is damaged.
Judge Pierre Cenel of Les Cayes rebuked the government of Port-au-Prince.
“As a judge, I can’t have any political views. But as a man, as someone who cares about the situation in my country, nothing works. They didn’t make any preparations for this disaster,” Senel said. .
As the poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people. The latest disaster occurred a few weeks after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated on July 7, when Haiti fell into political turmoil.
The head of the Haitian Civil Defense Agency, Jerry Chandler, said at a press conference that he knew that the aid had not yet reached many areas, but officials were working hard to deliver it.
“People’s frustration and despair are understandable, but… people are asked not to block the convoy so that civil protection can work,” he said.
Chandler said that at least 600,000 people need humanitarian assistance and 135,000 families have been displaced. The goal is to provide assistance to everyone in need within a week.
In the tent city of Les Cayes, the displaced residents are increasingly worried.
“We need help,” said Roosevelt Milford, a pastor who represented hundreds of people camping in damp fields since the earthquake destroyed their homes.
Milford and others said they lacked even the most basic supplies, such as food, clean drinking water and shelter from rain. Authorities said that drinking water tanks were destroyed during the earthquake.
This week, Tropical Storm Grace swept through many shelters and flooded the area.
Moriel Gedi, a community leader in the Marigot district in southern Port-au-Prince, said that although the town was intact in the earthquake, Grace has flooded hundreds of houses, killing four people and leaving several others missing. And it hasn’t helped.
“Even NGOs did not come,” he said.
Security concerns about the gang-controlled areas on the route from the capital Port-au-Prince have slowed the availability of aid.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that negotiations with armed groups have allowed humanitarian convoys to reach Lekai.
Chandler said the government is increasing the number of land rescue convoys and plans to reach three per day soon.
In the town of La Asir, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of Lekas, there are more than 30,000 people in the town. Community leader Aldorf Hilaire said that the government’s help has not yet come, and the survivors are relying on charities such as Doctors Without Borders. support.
“We are desperate,” he told Reuters. “The spring water is dirty: the water is not drinkable… We had a bad night during the storm and people needed tents and tarps.”
Chandler said that a rare piece of good news is that 34 people have been rescued in the past two days. But hope is fading.