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Aid Group On Haiti Food Distribution

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

In Haiti, aid is flowing, though still not quickly enough for some. Today, a shipment of food from Catholic Relief Services is being distributed at a makeshift camp. It's set up on the Petionville Club Golf Course, that's in Port-au-Prince. And joining us now from that camp is Lane Hartill of Catholic Relief Services. And I understand that the U.S. military is there now. The forces there have secured the camp and how is the distribution of aid proceeding?

Mr. LANE HARTILL (Catholic Relief Services): It's going well. Let me describe what's happening in front of me. There's about 50 soldiers from the, I believe, it's the 82nd Airborne, and they're offloading trucks, packets of water. They've formed a line. They're passing the water down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, there are maybe 2,000 Haitians waiting, children are coming in, women picking up some bottles of water and moving on. We're also delivering food kits. In the food kits there's things like sardines, granola bars, juice, mixed nuts, peanut butter. It's enough for a family of five for a couple of days. That stuff is also being delivered.

BRAND: And how many Haitians are there?

Mr. HARTILL: Right in front of me, I would say about 2,000 are lined up right now watching this aid flow in. In the makeshift camp itself, there is an estimation, some people say around 20,000 and obviously it grows at night when people come here to sleep.

BRAND: Now, we've seen images of chaos unfolding in other parts of the city when aid is being distributed. Is that not happening there? It sounds like it's pretty orderly.

Mr. HARTILL: It's fairly orderly, thanks to the U.S. military. They formed a cordon, they're standing down there. The people seem to be, you know, they obviously want food, that's for sure. But they're making their way in. They're getting water. They're getting food. Obviously there are some frustrations. But it is being pulled off. People are getting food now, so I think that's the most important thing.

BRAND: And what are you hearing from the Haitians themselves because we've heard from them over the past several days, fury, actually, at the pace of aid and what are they telling you now?

Mr. HARTILL: Yeah. It's clear, frustration is mounting. You know, there's a lack of water in the city, there's a lack of fuel, definitely a lack of medicine. Logistically, it's difficult to get aid to secure sights. But that is why it's so great that we're here at the golf course with the help of the U.S. military. It's secure, and people are getting aid.

BRAND: Now, you have worked on the ground in other disasters, I understand.

Mr. HARTILL: I have been in various places in West Africa, flooding, for example. But I've never seen anything on this scale. There's just so many people that lost houses and also those whose houses have been damaged and they're afraid to sleep in them. You know, it's one thing to see pictures on TV, but it's quite another thing to be here and see Haitians when you drive down the streets. Makeshift signs are going up saying: SOS, we need help, we need food, we need water. So it's clear that people are getting desperate.

BRAND: Lane Hartill, thank you very much and best of luck to you.

Mr. HARTILL: Thanks for having me.

BRAND: That's Lane Hartill of Catholic Relief Services. He spoke to us from the Petionville Club Golf Course in Port-au-Prince. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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