Video: The Morning After, Haiti Earthquake Victims Can Only Rely on Each Other

This dispatch begins at 10pm the night of the Tuesday’s earthquake, and resumes the following morning after I caught some sleep in an open bus abandoned in a downtown Port-Au-Prince street.  More to come.

Update: Here is a written piece published at Inter-Press News Service. Video of Moliere‘s burial coming later.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 17, 2010 (IPS) – Millions of dollars in aid are pouring into Haiti. Another head of state visits each day. The misery in Port-Au-Prince dominates the news nearly a week after the 7.0 earthquake struck the heart of this island country.

What has changed on the streets of Haiti’s capital city since the tremors? The Haitian people have mobilised, while foreign aid efforts continue to stall.

More tents have been erected in the roads where Haitians gathered, away from crumbling structures. In the public squares across from the collapsed national palace Saturday, a young couple explained that the yellow tent overhead was given to them by a wealthy Haitian.

That area, called Chanmas, seems an ideal place to distribute aid to the thousands of people sitting and sharing food and shelter in orderly fashion. But people said no aid workers had stopped by to give them anything the whole day.

Two U.S. Navy helicopters flew overhead in opposite directions while they talked with this reporter. Earlier in the day, hundreds of U.S. soldiers could be seen walking back and forth inside the airport.

As of Sunday, the United Nations reported that humanitarian relief is still being bottlenecked at the main airport and roads remain blocked with debris. Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) said that one of its planes carrying essential medical supplies was not permitted to land at the airport.

“Despite guarantees, given by the United Nations and the US Defense Department, an MSF cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, and was re-routed to Samana, in Dominican Republic,” the group said in a statement Sunday. “All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay for the arrival of the hospital.”

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, is also working with Haitian authorities to set up a land corridor to bring in relief from the Dominican town of Barahona 130 kilometres away.

With the dead still being counted, and thousands missing, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said that 100,000 deaths “would seem a minimum”. The country’s interior minister reported that some 50,000 bodies have already been recovered.

European Union ministers called an emergency meeting for Monday to determine the costs of the massive reconstruction that will needed in coming months. The United Nations has already issued an appeal for 562 million to aid Haiti – even before the earthquake, the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

The 562 million would target the estimated three million Haitians affected for a period of six months, with half of the funds being earmarked for emergency food aid, and the rest for health, water, sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, emergency education and other key needs.

But in many parts of the devastated capital, there was little evidence of outside assistance.

In the suburb of Santo, dozens of Haitian men organised a digging and rescue operation on a pile of rubble. A huge orange Caterpillar bulldozer sat nearby, stationary. Heavy equipment from the Haitian construction company CNE is all over the city.

At the collapsed parliament building in downtown Port-Au-Prince, a bulldozer retrieved the bodies of politicians lying in the street.

Supporters of Haiti’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, dragged the stiff and dripping body of a high-profile party organiser named Bob Moliere into a wheelbarrow. They followed the bulldozer 200 yards to a grassy area by the sea and dumped his body into a four-foot-deep grave they had dug minutes earlier.

Marianne Moliere, now a widow, looked out at the dipping sun with tears streaming down her face. “There is no life for me because Bob was everything to me. I lost everything. Everything is destroyed,” she said.

“I’m sleeping in the street now because I’m homeless. But when I get some water, I share with others. Or if someone gives some spaghetti, I share with my family and others.”

She clutched a manila folder with photos of her dead husband. One of them showed him shaking hands with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The men had no idea that Aristide, pushed out by a coup in 2004, had issued a statement from exile in South Africa asking that he be allowed to return to Haiti immediately.

Told the news, they started smiling and talking excitedly with one another.

Moliere won his freedom from the post-coup regime in Haiti only three years ago after a full year in detention. The nearby grave remained open for the moment, a small mound of loose brown soil waiting to cover up Moliere’s stiff right arm pointing at the sky.

11 thoughts on “Video: The Morning After, Haiti Earthquake Victims Can Only Rely on Each Other”

  1. Hi Ansel, it’s Ravi Shroff (from TS…do you remember me?). My dad is heading to Haiti to help as a doctor (with Medical Teams International, but he also works for MSF) and Rozanna suggested to put you two in contact in case it could be any help (he should get there Monday and be there for 2 weeks). I gave him your phone number and email that I found on this website. If you want to contact him, his email is, or you can find him on facebook (Ashok Shroff).

    Hope you are doing well. Keep up the great work and stay safe.

  2. Hi Ansel, I am so glad you are staying to document the devastation and that we can get first hand reports from you. On the news; CNN or MSNBC, the coverage emphasizes the lack of security, the disorderly people and you get the feeling that they cannot wait for a riot to break out, so that they can report how violent and uncouth the Haitian population is. It is very frustrating to see them always looking for the worst in Haitians.

    I wrote about the situation prior to the earthquake and the teaming up of Clinton, Bush and Obama on Haiti relief on my blog and someone sent me an excellent documentary video on the UN occupation, so I posted that along with it–hope to change some people’s perspectives on the Haitian people and the struggles they have had.

    i got this desperate email from someone last night and passed along the message to the Red Cross 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767):

    Your Name: : MB

    Your Email Address: : xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Subject: : Isolated Mountain Home In Haiti-300 Refugees on Grounds-Need Food, Water, and Medical Supplies

    Message: : I have just learned that there are over 300 Haitian Refugees living outside on the grounds of a severely damaged home of the father of my Haitian friend. His father received a concussion but is stablized The home has been virtually destroyed but the surrounding grounds is the home for over 300 refugees The house is located in a town known as Merger-just west of Carrefour. They are in desperate need of food, water, and medical supplies. Apparently, the only (or best) access is via helicopter. Please help and/or communicate to someone who can!!They need help!!! They need help!!

    Good to get these reports from you. Take care of yourself.

  3. Thanks, Ansel for your vigilence and courageous, authentic reporting. The outrageous racism and cowardly misappropriation of funds and supplies by tha US (and other powers?) seems unbelievable – worse than Katrina. I feel somewhat gratified that collaborative efforts by small organizations such as Honor and Respect and Konpay can support larger programs like Zanmi Lasante.


  4. You have done the world a great service by making your videos available. I am in Canada and I am sickened by the ignorance and arrogance of our Prime Minister who has focussed, along with our pathetic media, on the so called long term development that will come after the country is cleaned up. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and our outrage is directed at the governments who are blaming the victims and using this disaster as yet another opportunity to show their military might instead of the humanity.

  5. I pray for those people who have been injured in Haiti. the earthquake in Haiti is one of the word disasters this year. I just hope that they would be able to recover soon.

  6. i have several relatives who were also vicitimized by the earthquake in Haiti. thank God that they were not seriously hurt. i hope and pray that Haiti would be able to recover soon from this disaster.

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