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Great need remains among Haiti survivors

The International Organization for Migration says it has 10,000 tents in Haiti and 30,000 more on the way. But the supply is “unlikely to address the extensive shelter needs,” the group said.

Associated Press

The International Organization for Migration says it has 10,000 tents in Haiti and 30,000 more on the way. But the supply is “unlikely to address the extensive shelter needs,” the group said.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — In what's left of one family's home, in what remains of one destroyed neighborhood, Jean-Rene Lochard has retrieved the bodies of his mother, brother, sister-in-law and nephew, and buried them beside the ruins, one by one and with a priest's blessing.

On Monday, he dug deeper, searching for his brother's 5-year-old son. Only when he finds the boy will he rest. "I need the body to bury him," he said. "It's important to bury the bodies."

With 150,000 bodies already in mass graves, international teams, grieving families, sympathetic neighbors and sometimes even strangers were pulling at the rubble with tools or bare hands in countless corners of this devastated city. Thirteen days after the killer earthquake, they were desperate to recover some of the thousands of Port-au-Prince's lost dead — to close each tragic circle, to lay loved ones in the earth to rest in peace.

For the living — the homeless spread across empty lots, parks and plazas in the hundreds of thousands — there was little rest as aid agencies struggled to fill their needs for food and water, and to get them tents to shelter their families against the burning tropical sun.

In front of the wrecked National Palace, people's desperation boiled over. Uruguayan U.N. peacekeepers fired pepper spray into the air to disperse thousands jostling for food. The overwhelmed soldiers finally retreated, and young men rushed forward to grab the bags of pinto beans and rice, emblazoned with the U.S. flag, pushing aside others — including a pregnant woman who collapsed and was trampled. Thousands were left without food.

The global agency supplying tents said it already had 10,000 stored in Haiti and at least 30,000 more would be arriving. But the International Organization for Migration said the supply is "unlikely to address the extensive shelter needs."

The organization had estimated 100,000 family-sized tents were needed. But the U.N. says up to 1 million people require shelter, and Haitian President Rene Preval issued an urgent appeal Monday for 200,000 tents and for the aircraft carrying them to be given urgent landing priority at Port-au-Prince airport.

Preval, who lost his house in the disaster, plans to move into a tent on the lawn of the destroyed National Palace, said Patrick Delatour, the tourism minister and official in charge of planning reconstruction.

Meanwhile, the Haitian government and international groups were preparing a more substantial tent city on Port-au-Prince's outskirts. Brazilian army engineers with the U.N. peacekeeping force here have cleared and leveled 12 acres north of the city, planned as the first of more than a half-dozen sites officials hope will shelter the displaced before the onset of spring rains and summer hurricanes.

In Montreal, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and officials of more than two dozen other donor nations and international organizations met to assess the progress of the relief effort.

The Haitian government asked the international community to provide $3 billion for Haiti's reconstruction, the tourism minister told the Associated Press. Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told the conference his impoverished nation lost 60 percent of its gross domestic product in the quake, the economic activity centered on Port-au-Prince. International donors agreed on a 10-year rebuilding effort.

Returning from Haiti, international Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said in Geneva that a new Port-au-Prince must be planned.

"It's going to require, minimum, a generation," he said.

54 Americans confirmed dead

There are 54 confirmed American dead in Haiti, and U.S. officials were seeking to confirm 36 other possible deaths, State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said Monday.

Great need remains among Haiti survivors 01/25/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 11:06pm]
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