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`Haitian Capital Resembles One Big Refugee Camp`

Posted January. 18, 2010 08:19,   


When a Dong-A Ilbo reporter arrived at the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince Saturday morning, the city was in ruins and resembled a giant refugee camp.

The people on the streets were lucky for surviving last week’s earthquake, but finding a silver lining of hope was not easy.

Four days after the country’s worst earthquake in two centuries, forklifts carried corpses that had been left on the streets. People who lost relatives and homes lived in “tent villages” throughout the city. Little progress was made in rescue efforts, and aid supplies were not given to the victims.

Those who had gone to the capital to earn money flocked to the city bus terminal to return to their hometowns.

In the city center, few buildings were left unaffected. Hungry and tired victims lay on streets with little to wear.

Despite the scale of the damage, rescue efforts were only confined to department stores, hotels or supermarkets frequented by upper or middle class Haitians.

Some 20 French rescue teams began rescue work at Caribbean Market, a high-end supermarket on Delmas Street. This supermarket was a frequent destination for Haiti’s upper class and whites. Rescue activities were also active at the discount store Megamart, another place often visited by the rich.

No rescue team, however, went to the poor neighborhood of La Ville, which is just 10 minutes away. Small homes were severely damaged and bodies were scattered on the streets. Residents passed by the corpses covering their noses with towels or their hands.

Most of Haiti’s population lived in poverty before the earthquake, and most of those who were killed were not attended to. Fortunately, Cité Soleil, a slum of extreme poverty, was less affected since most of the homes there were built with galvanized steel.