In Haiti, Efforts Turn to Relocating Quake Survivors

BY Larisa Epatko  January 22, 2010 at 4:18 PM EST

Haiti’s government said Friday that some 400,000 survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake would be relocated to cleaner tent villages outside Port-au-Prince to prevent disease in the current makeshift camps.

The Pan American Health Organization, the regional branch of the World Health Organization, said about 280 “spontaneous settlements” are located around the city, which could spread diseases like typhoid, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said the first wave of 100,000 refugees would go to camps of 10,000 each near the town of Croix Des Bouquets, northeast of the capital, reported Reuters.

The Associated Press describes one family’s typical day living on the street in the Haitian capital’s central plaza, the Champs de Mars. They sleep on cardboard mats, cook meals on the sidewalk, and hang clothes to dry on the gates of the damaged presidential palace.

“I want everyone to be courageous,” Roselaine Dolce says with her family around her. “This is something we have never gone through before, but we’d better get used to it.”

Nations around the world have responded to the disaster, including “more than $500 million from European nations, money even from impoverished Chad and Congo, and a ton of tea from Sri Lanka,” reported the AP.

The U.N. World Food Program said it has distributed more than 1.4 million food rations. In addition to water and food, U.S. troops have been handing out 50,000 solar- and crank-powered radios — with lights and cell phone chargers attached — to help displaced Haitians receive news and public service announcements, according to Reuters.

Although supplies have been flowing into the country, distribution efforts have been hampered by poor communication on the ground. Military helicopters have been air dropping relief supplies to remote areas, but many people living in makeshift camps do not know about distribution centers or when the supplies might be dropped, reported the Miami Herald.

On Thursday, the U.S. Army reopened part of Haiti’s main port, which was badly damaged during the quake, to ease congestion at the airport, where airplanes packed with supplies have been landing around the clock.

Tonight on the NewsHour: Ray Suarez reports on how the small border town of Jimani in the Dominican Republic has become a hub of medical help for thousands of injured Haitians.

In the meantime, watch his Skype video report from the field: