Aid Workers: Progress Being Made in Getting Relief to Haiti

By Dialogo
January 21, 2010

Aid workers in Haiti say progress is being made in getting relief to those affected by last week's devastating earthquake but they stress that distribution of aid is still moving slow. The workers say more aid is starting to get into the nation, with improving roads and boat traffic. The U.N. World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran is scheduled to be in Haiti Thursday for a two-day visit to assess the situation and meet with government and relief agency officials. Searchers continue to pull survivors from the rubble of buildings in the capital Port-au-Prince while the bodies of many of those killed have been put into mass graves. U.S. military officials say an amphibious force of 4,000 sailors and Marines will be diverted from scheduled deployments elsewhere and sent to Haiti to assist in earthquake relief efforts. A similar unit began to deploy onshore west of the capital Tuesday. The new deployment will bring the number of U.S. forces being sent to Haiti to about 14,000. The United States also is sending a vessel designed to clear debris blocking the main port in Port-au-Prince. That debris has prevented larger ships with food and other vital supplies from making deliveries. A powerful aftershock jolted Haiti on Wednesday, sending panicked residents screaming into the streets and bringing down some buildings already ruined by last week's 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The aftershock was felt on the U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, which reached Haiti early Wednesday and has begun accepting injured survivors for treatment. U.S. President Barack Obama told the ABC television Wednesday the United States cannot afford to ignore the trouble in Haiti. He also said the U.S. does not want its relief efforts to appear as if it is taking over the Caribbean country. Mr. Obama said he wants to make sure that when America projects its power around the world, it is not seen only when it is at war. Officials estimate the earthquake affected three million people in Haiti, about one-third of the population of the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. Some 200,000 people are believed to have been killed.