Page last updated at 02:15 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Haiti's Cite Soleil still deprived of post-quake help

By Nick Davis
BBC News, Haiti

UN peacekeepers distribute food in Cite Soleil, 16 January 2010
Aid has reached some in Cite Soleil, but many are still needy

In some parts of Cite Soleil the houses are nearly back-to-back. Their zinc sheeting is bent and rusted, but they are still standing.

People are selling yams and other vegetables, and water packed in little plastic bags.

They shout out the name of their product, but there are hardly any takers - people cannot afford it.

This is the most notorious neighbourhood in Haiti and it stretches as far as the eye can see.

Seafront property in the Caribbean is desirable everywhere apart from here.

The low-lying ground is muddy in parts. You cannot quite tell what you are walking in and you do not really want to.

I head across to talk to Mirilande, who is selling rice with some sort of meat mixed in. It smells fantastic and she has a few customers.

'No food'

When I ask the price of a plate she tells me five Haitian gourdes, which is about 12 US cents. But still many cannot afford to buy.

Some 70% of the people in this country lived on less than $2 (£1.20) a day and that was before the earthquake, which has destroyed much of what little economic activity there was.

A helicopter flies over an area near Port-au-Prince in Haiti after dropping off food, 18 January 2010
Flights used for aid drops have been passing over the neighbourhood

"They're willing to buy here because they don't have food at home - they have water but no food," says Mirlande.

As we chat, another US Navy helicopter flies overhead. Areas like Cite Soleil are exactly the kind that the UN and the US military have had concerns over.

As delays continue and people wonder where the supplies are, there is more anger about the lack of action on the ground.

Would it cause security problems if - as some had suggested - air drops took place here?

After all, the US Air Force is dropping pallets of food and water from C-17 transport planes to those isolated by the quake, but this community is just a few miles away from the tonnes of food and supplies that have come into the airport and still have not been distributed.

My question gets a mixed response, there are some saying no and others saying yes.

"I trust in God", says one woman. Another, younger woman says she needs to feed her baby. "They're killing us," she says.

She seems adamant that she would do anything to save her child's life.


Some residents expressed fears that dropping food on the central reservation now used by those whose homes had been destroyed might kill people.

Medical treatment is available in the neighbourhood, and a hospital is treating those injured in the quake.

As we try to get in we are followed by a couple of guys just trying to get past the crowds of people outside.

A man being treated in Cite Soleil, Haiti, 16 January 2010
People have been receiving medical treatment, but supplies are low

Security stops them and there is a heated argument, but it is resolved quickly.

As we enter, a hand painted sign with an AK-47 on a white background with a red "X" through it is a reminder of what life was like here before the quake.

For now, doctors are treating wounds that should have already have begun healing.

The lack of medical supplies means that as I walk round I see lots of amputations - crush injuries not treated, leading to infection and loss.

A young woman lying on the ground next to her daughter asks me if I can help because she has no money for anything.

The little girl's lower leg is gone, cut off beneath the knee.

She just stares out across a packed ward.

I ask the receptionist how many people the hospital normally treats. She does not know, but she tells me they are seeing 400 patients a day.

It is like a revolving door of pain in Cite Soleil.

The sound of the latest humanitarian mission can be heard overhead as yet another chopper flies by, whilst on the ground "Sun City" remains in the dark.

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