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UN chief urges Haiti aid patience



By Nick Davis
BBC News, Port-au-Prince

Youths play with empty boxes as they collect them after food was distributed by the World Food Program in Port-au-Prince, Saturday, 16 January 2010
Food aid is starting to reach victims, but most remain desperate

Supplies are slowly starting to get to some people in Port-au-Prince. The numbers are still small, but for the first time in days it feels like movement.

We have been hearing the constant roar of high-powered engines for days as transport planes take off and land. But like the people of Haiti, we have wondered why the cargo has not been getting to its final destination.

The incidents of unrest over food and water have been few and far between, but many people still want answers.

At one of the makeshift camps in the capital, hundreds of people made homeless by the earthquake shelter from the intense heat under a patchwork quilt of tarpaulin, zinc sheet, and blankets.

There are hundreds of men, women and children on the rough ground surviving without the basics.

Most people can't afford to buy food. We need help.
Earthquake survivor

I ask one woman how she copes. She shrugs and says that they barely have any food or water.

I ask her whether she has seen any aid.

"The supplies haven't got here yet," she says.

This is the situation only a few miles from the airport - the hub of the international relief operation.

Exodus

The sound of music can be heard from the camp. Inside a nearby Pentecostal church believers thank God for their deliverance, but also mourn for those they lost.

I ask one of the congregation about the earthquake and how he survived. He says: "It's a miracle".

I ask him about what will happen next, and he talks about putting his trust in God.

Map

But for others their faith in the international response to the disaster has gone. They are desperate to leave the city.

As a bus arrives in a market square, hundreds of people who had been waiting run and try to get on board.

The driver has to appeal for calm as people jostle. Many have suitcases filled with the only things they have left.

Nearly all the supplies in Haiti are running out. The price of fuel has skyrocketed, and petrol and diesel are three times more expensive than before. Hundreds of motorists are waiting to fill up.

As night falls, many Haitians prepare to spend another night outdoors. In a different part of town the forecourt of a petrol station is quiet, apart from the hundreds of people just milling about.

Across the road a woman sits in front of huge pans full of rice and chicken.

As I watch a man approaches me and says: "Most people can't afford to buy food. We need help."



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