First-hand account from our correspondent in Port-au-Prince
Issued on: Modified:
FRANCE 24's special correspondent reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, gives an eyewitness account of the devastation.
FRANCE 24's special correspondent Melissa Bell filed this report at 1:00pm Paris time (GMT+1) from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
"Until now [the Haitian government] had been notable for its absence, but today we saw Haitian firemen handing out water and Haitian diggers trying to remove some of the debris from the ministries," she says.it
According to Bell, the relief effort is slowly moving to areas beyond the devastated capital. "They have concentrated so much on Port-au-Prince for the last few days, because the scale of the destruction has made it difficult to look beyond. But the rest of the country has also been touched," she adds.
"Elsewhere in the country, humanitarian aid is making its way very slowly – painfully slowly – to the people.
"The have been reports of looting, banditry and even killings in neighbouring towns. There are things that the outside world is not seeing.
“When you consider the mission of people who need food and medical care, all the things they have been living without, you start to get a sense of the challenge."
“On the one hand, you have this extraordinary coordinated attempt by the Americans to get all the humanitarian aid in,” says Bell. Military and civilian aircraft full of aid are landing at regular intervals. “And it’s all really organised like clockwork.”
Crowds are forming at some airport entrances with people demanding help. At one point, Bell says UN peacekeepers at the main gate “were obliged, with the help of the US military, to push back the crowd” using teargas.
9:00pm Paris time (GMT+1) – The power vacuum is a persistent problem, with no one fully in charge of the country.
When you have “an angry, hungry, thirsty population that wants answers and wants access to all the things that it needs, it’s an explosive cocktail”, says Bell.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe