Distributing aid in Haiti is a dangerous proposition

Jeremie, the Grande’Anse department capital in western Haiti
Jeremie, the Grande’Anse department capital in western Haiti, was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew Oct. 4, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Jeremie, the Grande’Anse department capital in western Haiti

Jeremie, the Grande’Anse department capital in western Haiti, was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew Oct. 4, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

By Kit Doyle
Religious News Service
JEREMIE, Haiti (RNS)

It was on my last morning in Haiti that the looting happened. Our convoy went out with a U.N. escort in the direction of Bonbon, a city to the west, where we were scheduled to distribute 850 relief packets.

About a mile out, we came upon a downed palm tree, which turned out to be a roadblock. It seemed small, with about 10 people manning it, and Langham was confident that with the U.N. help we would be able to get through. But more people come out of nowhere and more locals blocked the back of the line of vehicles, our hopeful exit route.

Then the guy came with the large rock. Langham’s window was also struck, but he barely flinched, trying to keep everyone inside and outside the vehicle calm.

He calmly retrieved the key, walked over to the box truck, slowly unlocked it and let people take what they wanted. Buckets fell out as people shoved and tried to get their hands on whatever they could. In the end, local Haitians took about 100 buckets and a number of tarps. The U.N. peacekeepers escorting us are under orders not to use force if they are not attacked, so in a few minutes the relief-delivery operation was over, having failed to deliver the supplies as planned. We had barely gone a mile from the airport.

Who were the looters? About 50 people who live in an area that was largely devastated by Hurricane Matthew. They were apparently angry that this particular aid convoy was destined for a town 30 minutes to the west.

Read more at the link.

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