>>Prayers for the people of Haiti. Updated
Posted January 15, 2010on:
There is some rioting happening now. some of it is the criminals who escaped from prison when it collapsed. Some of it is just plain desperately starving people. The miracle to me is that it took so long to manifest itself. The Haitian people must be saints to have controlled themselves and their desperation so long. BB
Haitians pray, cry for help in the ruins
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Prayers of thanksgiving and cries for help rose from a roofless cathedral and the huddled homeless Sunday, the sixth day of an epic humanitarian crisis that was straining the world’s ability to respond and igniting flare-ups of violence amid the rubble.
A leading aid group echoed complaints about the supply bottleneck and skewed priorities at the U.S.-controlled airport. The general in charge said the U.S. military was “working aggressively” to speed up deliveries.
In the ruins of the Port-Au-Prince cathedral, gathered beneath shattered stained glass for their first Sunday Mass since Tuesday’s earthquake, survivors were told by their priest, “We are in the hands of God now.” But anger mounted hourly that other helping hands were slow in getting food and water to millions in need.
“The government is a joke. The U.N. is a joke,” Jacqueline Thermiti, 71, said as she lay in the dust with dozens of dying elderly outside their collapsed nursing home near the airport. “We’re a kilometer (half a mile) from the airport and we’re going to die of hunger.”
Water was delivered to more people around the capital, where an estimated 300,000 were living in the streets, but food and medicine were still scarce. Pregnant women gave birth in the streets. The injured arrived in wheelbarrows and on people’s backs at hurriedly erected field hospitals.
Authorities warned of looting and violence. In downtown Port-au-Prince, where people set bonfires to burn uncollected bodies, gunfire rang out and bands of machete-wielding young men, their faces covered with bandanas, roamed the streets.
“This is one of the most serious crises in decades,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he flew into the Haitian capital. “The damage, destruction and loss of life are just overwhelming.”
A reliable death toll may be weeks away, but the Pan American Health Organization estimates 50,000 to 100,000 died in the 7.0-magnitude tremor, and Haitian officials believe the number is higher.
Celebrating Mass at the once-proud pink-and-white cathedral, now a shell of rubble where a rotting body lay in the entrance, the Rev. Eric Toussaint preached of thanksgiving to a small congregation of old women and other haggard survivors assembled under the open sky.
“Why give thanks to God? Because we are here,” Toussaint said. “What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now.”
Mondesir Raymone, a 27-year-old single mother of two, was grateful. “We have survived by the grace of God,” she said.
But others were angry.
“It’s a catastrophe and it is God who has put this upon us,” said Jean-Andre Noel, 39, a computer technician. “Those who live in Haiti need everything. We need food, we need drink, we need medicine. We need help.”
Were his parishioners being helped? Toussaint was asked. “Not yet,” he replied.
U.N. officials said they were feeding 40,000 people, but must raise that to 2 million within a month. The U.S. aid chief, Rajiv Shah, after visiting Port-au-Prince, told “Fox News Sunday” he believed the U.S. distributed 130,000 “meals ready to eat” on Saturday, but the need was much larger. “We’re really trying to address it,” he said.
The Geneva-based aid group Doctors Without Borders was blunt: “There is little sign of significant aid distribution.”
The “major difficulty,” it said, was the bottleneck at the airport, under U.S. military control. It said a flight carrying its own inflatable hospital was denied landing clearance and was being trucked overland from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, almost 200 miles away in the Dominican Republic, delaying its arrival by 24 hours.
French, Brazilian and other officials had earlier complained about the U.S.-run airport’s refusal to allow their supply planes to land. A World Food Program official told The New York Times that the Americans’ priorities were out of sync, allowing too many U.S. military flights and too few aid deliveries.
The U.S. has completely taken over Port-au-Prince airspace and incoming flights have to register with Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, said Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster, Air Force spokesman here.
“You won’t have the stray cats and dogs allowed to come into the airspace and clog it up,” he said.
The on-the-ground U.S. commander in Haiti, Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, acknowledged the bottleneck issue.
“We’re working aggressively to open up other ways to get in here. The ports are part of that,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The U.S. Navy has dispatched a salvage ship to Haiti to assess and possibly begin repairs to the Port-au-Prince seaport, which has been rendered useless for incoming aid because of quake damage.
Keen reported “increasing incidents of violence,” as a weakened Haitian police force and U.N. peacekeeping contingent were overwhelmed.
In the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Delmas, a crowd gathered Sunday around the bodies of two accused looters, who had been beaten to death by angry residents. Onlookers said they were known criminals who had escaped from the main prison when it collapsed in the quake. About 4,000 inmates escaped.
Angry survivors loitered amid piles of burning garbage in the Bel-Air slum. “White guys, get the hell out!” they shouted in apparent frustration at the sight of more and more foreigners in their streets who were not delivering help.
They also sounded furious with President Rene Preval, who hasn’t been seen at a rescue site or gone on radio to address the nation since the quake struck.
“Preval out! Aristide come back!” some shouted, appealing for a return of the populist Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in 2004. From his South African exile, Aristide said last week he wants to return to Haiti, but spoke of no concrete plans to do so.
The tragic scenes across this crippled city, choking on the stench of death — of people still dying in the streets, of hands desperately reaching out for water or food, of people on their knees praying for help — have depressed some of those working hardest to help.
The U.N. mission chief, Tunisian Hedi Annabi, and other top U.N. officials were killed in the collapse of their headquarters, among at least 40 confirmed dead. Hundreds of peacekeepers and other U.N. staff were missing.
At that destroyed U.N. building on Sunday, just 15 minutes after secretary-general Moon visited, rescuers lifted a Danish staff member alive from the ruins, U.N. officials reported. He was talking and was whisked away for medical treatment.
And at a collapsed Caribbean Supermarket where search teams from Florida and New York City worked overnight, a policeman reported that three people had been pulled out alive around 6 a.m.
More than 1,700 rescue workers had saved more than 70 lives since the quake, a U.N. spokeswoman said in Geneva.
“There are still people living” in collapsed buildings, Elisabeth Byrs told The Associated Press. “Hope continues.”
In such conditions, she said, people might survive until Monday.
Saturday afternoon: I like the rest of you have been following the news from Haiti. It was truly a miracle when an 18 month old toddler was pulled alive and well from beneath a the remains of her home yesterday. It was distressing when a reporter on FOX visited the affluent area of Port au Prince Thursday and saw rescue equipment like dogs and plows, tents and supplies of all kinds when not one of these things were visible in the rest of the city. It was very heart warming to see these people who are so desperate calmly moving in line to get supplies from American troops. In fact, it showed one lady who was holding a child being passed a sack by another lady standing in line several people behind so the first lady could put her supplies in the sack for easier carrying. The people are helping each other as best they can.
There are some scenes of grocery stores being looted but dear Lord when these people have nothing I think looting a grocery story is understandable and even forgivable. One father was interviewed who showed the reporter he had one can of peas and a family of five to feed. He was just carrying the can of peas around knowing one can of peas wouldn’t do anything for his family.
There has been some reporting of gangs roaming the streets at night. Remember there is no light at all after the sun goes down. Remember also that the prisons were also destroyed so all kinds of criminals and mentally ill are out there in the streets also. Finally on Friday there were reports of some police officers being seen in the streets trying to help people and keep some order.
Bodies are being plowed into mass graves. This isn’t being done fast enough and in the 90 degree heat the bodies are bloating and in some cases bursting. the horror is really not yet begun for the people of Haiti. the diseases that are coming due to the unsanitary conditions will be as bad if not worse than the earthquake.
I have heard people comparing Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami and this Haiti earthquake. First let me say that Katrina doesn’t deserve a place in this discussion of tragedies. First because of the flea bite it was in comparison to the other two and second because the hardships were due to first the government officials sending people to the super dome rather than on school busses allowed to sit and be flooded. And second by the people themselves who didn’t bother to take food or diapers or any supplies at fall for their families but instead expected everything to be provided for them. I suppose this is the difference between spoiled Americans and the Haitian people who have never known anything but the very harshest life.
Now been the Indonesian tsunami and the Haiti Earth there is a comparison in the vast number of deaths and destruction. One fact however proved to be a blessing for the tsunami victims and that was that all bodies or most of the bodies and debris was washed out to sea. These bodies lying around the streets and buried beneath the rubble will prove to be the worst devastation for the Haitian people in days and weeks and even months to come.
Pray for the people of Haiti. because nothing can help ease their burden and misery but God at this point. BB
Haiti is the most desperately poverty stricken nation on Earth, and yet it is located in a paradise on Earth. Billions of dollars in foreign aid has been pored into Haiti over the past half century or more only to go directly into the pockets of the few thugs who have managed to take over the government. None has gone to the people unless it was in the form of individuals or church groups going into the country and forming independent orphanages or homeless shelters, clinics or food banks. With this violent tragedy the only hope I see for this country is the United States (NOT the United Nations!) going in an setting up a government under the military much as was done in Japan after WWII. This would call for a commitment of years of support but it is the only way that perhaps a decent free and somewhat ethical government can be set up for these people.
I have met a few people from Haiti and been very impressed by their work ethic and just general goodwill and outlook on life. How this could develop in people from a place as corrupt and poor as Haiti I have no idea unless God is at work among the common people if not their leaders. I have cried when boat loads of these people have died trying to leave their country in little more that rafts in their desperation to get away. Has God given the world leaders a chance to truly do something decent for these people? Will the world leaders answer this call? BB
This is an excellent article. a must read. BB