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Local Leaders in Haiti Shut Out of Military-Run Relief Efforts

February 3, 2010

Independent news report details the lack of coordination on the ground for relief efforts in Haiti.

GRAND GOAVE, Jan 28, 2010 (IPS) – Two gray 23-million-dollar hovercrafts sitting in the middle of a sandy tropical beach look like they are from another world. A pair of 15-foot-wide propeller fans sticks out from the back of each behemoth.

Along the narrow dirt road to this seaside town’s centre, families live under blankets stretched over sticks.

A tent city occupies the town’s main square, surrounded by crumbling buildings. Joseph Jean-Pierre Salam, the mayor of Grand Goave, about 15 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince, estimated that some 70 percent of the city’s important structures fell during the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12.

“They have made many promises, but we don’t see the action yet,” Salam said, referring to the international community. “We have a lot of people suffering. There is an expectation that help will come.”

Little food and water has been distributed by the dozens U.S. troops milling about the beach since the earthquake, according to local leaders.

“I went there to talk to them,” said Jean-Jacob Renee, an English teacher. “They said they are there to set up some tents for themselves, but they did not come with food or water – anything for the people.”

He said the only aid the military brought to Grand Goave was distributed by Catholic Relief Services, an international NGO. “When they are in the town, we don’t know. We don’t have their phone number,” he said. “Nobody has helped us.”

Full Article on IPS News:http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50144

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