Problems With Food Distribution in Haiti
Last Updated at 6:06 p.m. Two weeks after the devastating earthquake that left much of Haiti in ruins, food distribution to desperate Haitians remains limited and often chaotic.
Ansel Herz, a multimedia journalist and Web designer based in Port-au-Prince, told The Lede that he witnessed the chaotic scene in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of the Haitian capital on Tuesday captured in the photo above by our colleague Damon Winter.
Mr. Herz said he and another journalist saw a line of Haitians that stretched about a half mile in front of a police station where bags of rice and bottles of cooking oil were being distributed. People were orderly and patient, but were forced into a narrow area that became a “huge bottleneck,” according to Mr. Herz.
As people began crowding a gate outside the police station, officers began beating people back, Mr. Herz said. Eventually, the metal gate bent and collapsed under the weight of the desperate crowd, and “people fell into the street and onto the sidewalk,” Mr. Herz said. Police were “controlled,” Mr. Herz said, but were “hitting people and pushing people away from the site.” (For more audio interviews, see this Interactive page that is being updated daily.)
Even well-established aid groups continue to struggle to distribute food. In a startling piece of video from Independent Television News (embedded below in a report from the Rachel Maddow Show), a team from the World Food Programme was shown putting boxes of food back onto its truck after a crowd became frustrated when people were asked to fill out forms before they received food aid.