Haiti Relief Puts Few Dents in 'Massive' Need

Food, shelter, medicine in short supply with government invisible
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2010 2:00 PM CST
People walk in downtown Port-au-Prince, Sunday, Feb. 7.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Relief efforts in Haiti are falling far short of the need despite the best intentions of the international response to the devastating earthquake almost a month past. The nation’s government is almost absent as US soldiers struggle to deliver nothing more than rice, and no temporary shelter besides the makeshift variety is available to the thousands left homeless. And the demand for medical treatment is still “massive.”

"We're seeing as many as 500 people a day in our dinky little health-care center,” a disaster expert and physician from the US tells the Washington Post. “We send paralyzed patients out with their families and say, ‘Good luck.’” The UN hopes to soon make a large food shipment, and it and the US have employed 42,000 Haitians to clean up Port-au-Prince, but the Haitian government is largely inactive. “It's making occasional surreal decisions,” says the director of a cultural institution.

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